The Pandemic and Your Teeth

Post by: Gerarda on 28 Oct 2020

We have noticed a marked increase in broken teeth and sore jaws with TMJ (temporomandibular joint) problems since the pandemic of COVID-19 started and people were in lockdown; enough to warrant more than a passing thought. The need for mouth guards to prevent people from grinding and clenching their teeth is correspondingly up.

The Spanish Dental Association (Ilustre Colegio Oficial de Dentistas de Málaga, COEMA) hasn’t done a survey to verify this increase in dental problems since the pandemic started, but reports from colleagues of pandemic-related dental problems are common says Dr. Mikael Kahn. Mikael says, “Bacteria doesn’t take a break, nor does it know there is pandemic! One can postpone dental treatment for a while, but sooner or later it gets to a point where one can´t put it off any more.”

The combination of being in lockdown and therefore, delaying treatment, the stress of being without a job or wondering how one will pay one’s rent, or the fact that one has adverse working conditions, has caused the problems of broken teeth and sore jaws.

We are seeing the amount of stress people are under, having a severe impact on their teeth because of clenching and grinding. This in turn has created problems with their jaw and TMJ. Additionally, with people working from home more often than not they don’t have appropriate chairs to sit in for long periods of time and therefore, are hunched over at their computers. This in turn can increase grinding (bruxism).

In addition to stress and delayed care, we are seeing more cavities as people are snacking more because they are working from home and have ready access to foods that they would not ordinarily have at work. Consequently, people are also brushing less frequently. When people get out of their routines, many times the oral hygiene follows suit.

Having reviewed our records from the same period as last year from June to October, we have seen a 54% increase in the need for mouth guards, 87% increase in broken teeth treated either by composite repair or crowns and a 12% increase in treatment for cavities.

While we can´t say definitively that these statistics are a direct result of the lockdown we experienced in the spring, we can say that we have treated more broken teeth and TMJ problems than ever before during the same period.

Dental Emergencies

Post by: Gerarda on 09 Sep 2019

Broken front teeth, tooth pain, knocking out a tooth (avulsed tooth), bleeding gums and tooth sensitivity have all been covered in previous blogs. Below are many other types of dental emergencies that patients have.

Realigned your teeth after a fall
Once your permanent teeth grow in your teeth should never be loose. If you fall and hit your mouth and move teeth out of position, they will become loose and need immediate treatment. A trauma so severe as to move teeth needs emergency room treatment at a hospital to determine if you have had a concussion or a broken jaw. Your first stop though should be your dentist as the sooner the teeth are realigned the better chance they will survive the trauma.

Under some conditions it is possible to move teeth back into place. The dentist administers a local anesthetic, repositions the teeth and then uses composite to bond them to the neighboring teeth for support. This keeps them in place until they heal back into the bone. Depending on the extent of the injury the bonding will have to remain in place for up to 3 months. The longer the teeth are left untreated the harder it will be to move them back into position. Teeth that have moved and caused bone damage will most likely need to be extracted.

Root canal treatment will need to be done on the injured teeth as the nerve will die from the trauma and will cause infection; therefore, the canals have to be cleaned, disinfected and medication placed in the canals or the teeth will start to go dark, a sure sign the nerve is dying.

The teeth stand a better chance of long term viability the sooner they are treated. Seek immediate dental treatment.

Infections
Infections can result in varying degrees of pain and sometimes they can have no pain at all, but all have one thing in common. There is something wrong in your mouth and it needs to be treated sooner rather than later. Whether it is a tooth abscess, cavity, injury, prior dental work or poor oral hygiene, left untreated will only become more serious.

Idiopathic ulcers or canker sores
While idiopathic ulcers are not life threatening, they are very painful and make eating and talking difficult. They develop on the soft tissue or at the base of the gum and are small, oval in shape with a red edge. Most go away in a week or so. Their cause is unknown but researchers believe they develop after a mouth injury such as an accidental cheek bite, hard teeth brushing, food sensitivities or stress to name a few. Contact your dentist if it doesn´t heal or it gets progressively worse.

Abscess
There are three types of abscesses, a periapical abscess, a periodontal abscess, and a gingival abscess. Abscesses occur at different regions of the tooth and for different reasons. Essentially, an abscess is a pocket of pus that is caused by a bacterial infection. Either way you slice it, the abscess need to be treated. The abscess has to be drained to get rid of the infection. At times a root canal treatment is required and if that is not possible then the tooth would need to be pulled. Infection causes bone destruction so it is important for it to be treated in a timely manner. It also can result in serious and sometimes life-threatening complications if left untreated.

Swelling
Swelling in the oral cavity is a common dental emergency and depending on the reason for the swelling is one that needs immediate attention. Usually the swelling doesn´t go away on its own. Swelling of any kind is never a good sign and can indicate that you have a serious dental infection.

A swelling has many causes including:
Gum disease
Gum inflammation (gingivitis)
Using a dental device such as braces
Having a sharp or broken tooth
Reaction to certain foods or medication
Biting your tongue or cheek
Cancer treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation
Taking medication for rheumatoid arthritis, epilepsy or antibiotics
Autoimmune diseases such as lupus, Crohn´s disease or Bechet’s disease

It is not pleasant realizing that you have something wrong in your mouth and it is difficult to examine yourself. You are left wondering if this will go away on its own. Can I look after this myself? How long do I wait before calling my dentist? Many times people have favorite home remedies that can help, but at other times you need to call your dentist immediately.