Brush up on how to care for your teeth with these tips from dentists

Beyond its psychological toll, the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on our bodies: Many people have put on pounds, picked at their skin, broken their toes — and, according to dentists, damaged their teeth.

As more Americans return to dental offices, practitioners say they’re seeing a significant rise in tooth-grinding and jaw-clenching probably brought on by pandemic-related stress and anxiety. They’re also seeing an increase in cavities and gum disease that may be due to a combination of lapsed appointments, pandemic eating and drinking habits, and less-than-stellar brushing and flossing.

In a February survey conducted by the American Dental Association, 76 percent of general practice dentists said the prevalence of teeth-grinding, or bruxism, among their patients had increased compared with pre-pandemic times. About two-thirds reported seeing a rise in associated problems of chipped and cracked teeth as well as headache and jaw pain symptoms, the survey found. Meanwhile, about 30 percent of respondents said they observed more tooth decay and periodontal disease, an infection of the tissues surrounding teeth, in their patients.

Brad Guyton, chief dental officer for Delta Dental of Virginia, said the increase in common problems such as cavities was not as severe as many dentists had feared, perhaps because many dental practices did not stay closed for long.

“Had we been shut down for six months, that could have been catastrophic, not only to the dentists and their businesses, but more importantly, the patients that needed to get in,” Guyton said.

But although dentists were able to reopen early in the pandemic, concerns about the coronavirus continued to keep many patients away, which made caring for teeth at home “even more important,” said Domenica Sweier, a clinical professor at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

“Most people, I think, tried their best in a very unusual situation,” said Ada Cooper, a spokesperson for the American Dental Association and a consumer adviser with a private dental practice in New York. “Even at that, there’s no substitute for regular dental visits.”

By |2021-06-21T21:24:01-04:00June 17th, 2021|Uncategorized|