The pandemic has not been easy on any of us, whether we have gotten ill, cared for an ill loved one, are a front-line worker, or have been given extra responsibilities at home with our children. No matter our individual situation, it’s easy to say that it’s been difficult for everyone. This includes our mental health, and yes, even our oral health.
It may not seem obvious, but our collective oral health has suffered greatly since the beginning of the pandemic. While many patients have not been able to or have been hesitant to see a dentist, many existing problems like cavities and gum disease have gotten worse without treatment.
For some, stress has taken its toll on their mouth in the form of bruxism, or tooth grinding. This has caused teeth to chip, wear, and even crack or fracture due to pressure. Studies have shown the human bite can exert up to 300 pounds of pressure!
In other cases, the upset of a regular routine has been to blame for poor oral hygiene. Some dentists site that many people no longer worry about bad breath in the office due to working at home or wearing a mask, and have thus let their oral hygiene slide in the morning. This can not only cause bad breath, but it can also cause cavities and gum diseases.
Another issue? Constant snacking. Whereas at the office you may have had dedicated lunchtime, at home, we are more likely to reach for snacks throughout the day – without brushing our teeth afterward. This equals more buildup on our teeth, and a higher risk of cavities. This constant snacking has also lead to weight gain in many quarantined individuals.
If you are working from home and feeling stressed, try to be cognizant about what you are doing with your teeth during moments of high stress. Are you clenching your jaw? This could turn into a temporomandibular joint disorder. Are you grinding your teeth? This could cause your teeth to chip or crack.
If you are home and snacking frequently, be sure to brush your teeth after eating, or rinse with water or mouthwash to help keep plaque and bacteria at bay. If you are due for your annual or biannual exam contact Dr. Mingus today and schedule an appointment.