Local dentists say COVID-19 could mean more cracked teeth, jaw pain :: WRAL.com

— Some local dentists report a new trend of dental injuries among their patients.

“We’re noticing it as a dental community,” said Dr. Meenal Patel with Preston Dental Loft in Cary, who said her colleagues and friends are also seeing more patients complain about jaw pain, headaches and cracked teeth.

“We have had patients, at least one a day, with a chipped tooth or a broken tooth to the gum line,” said Patel.

Patel admits that there is no research or data to confirm it, but she and other dental colleagues think it may be related to the social impact of COVID-19. She describes increases stress as a “sign of the times” as more people stay home after losing a job. Others are trying to work from home while their kids learn virtually.

“You know families are used to being together, but maybe not together this much,” said Patel.

Patel said all those life changes can lead to anxiety and dental pain.

“Grinding and crunching definitely is related to stress,” she said.

Patel recommends a night guard as a possible remedy. The device is snapped on before bedtime and can help relax the jaw and reduce or eliminate pain from clenching and grinding. She says some people need to wear it at times during the day because stress causes them to clench around the clock.

Sometimes, Patel said, teeth may drift out of proper alignment, leading to pain. Those patients may need braces.

Patel recommends everyone practice a preventive approach to many dental problems with good dental hygiene, including regular brushing, flossing and professional dental cleaning.

She says other pain complaints may have more to do with working in front of a computer in a place not well suited for proper posture. That can lead to shoulder and neck pain as well as headaches.

For patients who are reluctant to see their dentist due to concerns about COVID-19, Patel said many dentists offer “virtual consults” online to discuss health — but being seen in person is safe and the best way to care for your mouth.

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