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.

Do you Grind your Teeth?

Post by: Gerarda on 28 May 2013

The damage that you cause when you grind your teeth can be devastating. Sadly, most people do not even know that they are grinding their teeth. Unless a partner happens to be awake and hear what is going on, grinders never really notice until they are in pain or they see that their teeth have become shorter or they are chipped. The force that is applied when you grind your teeth is normally quite high.  At times the load is such that you wake up from pain in the teeth and/or chewing muscles. This tremendous pressure applied to the teeth is also applied to the supporting bone around the teeth and the temporo-mandibular joints (TMJ). Therefore, you can have a feeling that not just one tooth hurts, but many.

Cranio-mandibular dysfunction is a term which describes a group of symptoms which result when the teeth, chewing muscles or jaw-joints (TMJ) do not work together correctly.

Some of the possible symptoms from cranio-mandibular dysfunction:

  • Clenching or grinding of the teeth
  • Headaches especially when waking up in the morning
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Ear ache
  • Neck pain
  • Clicking of the jaw-joints
  • Pain in or around the jaw-joints
  • Sensitivity in teeth and sore teeth when chewing

In many cases it is stress combined with poor contacts between the upper & the lower teeth which cause people to grind their teeth; however, there are other considerations, such as:

Health – Do you have arthritis, or did you sustain an injury to the jaw?

Psychological – Are you fearful, angry, tense or anxious?

Physical – Are your upper and lower teeth aligned?

Sometimes pains and aches associated with TMJ problems can be reduced with isometric exercises.

The consequences though need to be treated by adjusting the occlusion, the contacts between the upper and lower teeth. To prevent problems in the future, and to reduce further wear of your teeth, you may need a night guard to avoid direct contact between the upper and lower teeth. A very important effect of the night guard is that it relaxes the chewing muscles thereby, giving you relief from your symptoms.