COVID-19 stressing you out? You’re not alone. Fear and anxiety over the coronavirus have a lot of people feeling overwhelmed, and it’s taking a toll on their mental health (in addition to the obvious threat to their physical health presented by the virus itself). As if that’s not bad enough, that toll is manifesting itself in the form of tension headaches, body aches, and even teeth grinding and jaw clenching. This is causing a wave of new dental problems for people who may not have otherwise experienced this sort of problem.
According to recent headlines, patients across the country are complaining of jaw pain and trouble opening and closing their jaws – and it’s not because they’ve contracted the coronavirus. Dentists believe it’s due to the stress surrounding the quarantine, economy, coronavirus and current events. But while we don’t know how long this pandemic will last, unfortunately damage to your teeth from clenching and grinding can be permanent. So even though this global situation may be temporary, caring for your teeth is not.
Grinding your teeth causes more than just jaw pain – it can cause your teeth to develop small pits and fractures in the enamel, which are permanent and may need to be repaired with fillings. It can also lead to increased cavities and even tooth loss. Jaw clenching is just as bad – it can lead to jaw stiffness and pain, and even possibly temporomandibular joint dysfunction, a condition in which the lower portion of the jaw becomes misaligned with the temporomandibular joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull.
Another major problem with grinding and clenching is that you may not even realize you’re doing it, which can make it difficult to quit. That being said, if you do notice jaw soreness but can’t figure out its source, you could be unconsciously clenching your jaw. Speaking of “unconsciously,” you could also be clenching and grinding in your sleep, making it near impossible to stop.
If you do find yourself grinding or clenching your jaw, or if you are experiencing jaw pain but don’t know why, schedule an appointment with Dr. Mingus to be evaluated. He can get you fitted with a bite guard that will help ease tension and protect your teeth from clenching and grinding during both sleeping and waking hours.
To schedule an appointment, please call Dr. Mingus’ office at 541-382-6565.