There is no question, the coronavirus pandemic has created more stress for people, and we are seeing that stress at the dentist office with an increased number of cases of tooth grinding resulting in cracked teeth. When your teeth are cracked, those openings serve as portals for cavity-causing bacteria. “The weight of stress takes its toll on our bodies after an extended period of time. And your mouth is not immune to the impact of that stress,” said Dr. Tony Thomas , lead dentist at Advanced Smile Care in North Central San Antonio. Here are five, quick tips for you to consider to help you protect your teeth before serious damage occurs.
#1 Notice the signs of grinding
When your body responds to stress, it releases hormones and energy. The body uses that excess energy for muscle activity. Clenching and grinding are outlets for that energy. Some symptoms to look out for include popping, clicking, or grinding noises when you move your mouth and jaw. “If you are experiencing jaw tightness or pain or waking up with headache, those are signs that the temporomandibular joint of your jaw may not be working properly,” said Dr. Thomas. Tooth sensitivity and soreness can also be signs that a tooth is breaking down as a result of excessive grinding.
#2 Relax your jaw
Believe it or not, you can pre-train your jaw to behave while you sleep, so the overnight effects of excessive grinding can be avoided. Clenching during the day can carry over into the first couple of hours of sleep. “The best time to relax your jaw are the few hours before heading to bed,” said Dr. Thomas.
#3 Try relaxation techniques
Before stress even begins to impact your body, try relaxation techniques to put the mind and body at ease. Relaxation comes in a variety of packages including low to moderate-intensity exercise, mediation and mindfulness, fostering social connections with family and friends or even a pet, and learning something new such as an activity in a formal class or a casual hobby. “Do what you can to relieve stress before it starts to take a toll on the body. Your teeth will thank you,” said Dr. Thomas.
#4 Try a night guard
If all else fails and you continue to grind your teeth and jaw excessively, ask your dentist about getting a retainer-like device called a night guard. “A night guards helps prevent grinding by relaxing the jaw to prevent grinding, and acting as a barrier between the teeth,” said Dr. Thomas. Yahoo.com reports dentists have seen a surge in patients asking about night guards, just one example of how these devices are one way to battle the effects of jaw and tooth grinding that occurs during sleep.
#5 See your dentist
Many of us your may not feel comfortable returning to the dentist, however putting off a dental visit, especially for a minor problem, can create a dental emergency. If you have something that feels particularly painful in your mouth or you are experiencing increased sensitivity of your teeth, those are signs it’s time to see a dentist. “Just know that dentists nationwide have taken extra steps to keep you safe during this pandemic,” said Dr. Thomas. Even if your tooth grinding and jaw clenching habit began many months ago, it is never too late to address the problem. However, ignoring it for an extended period of time can result in more damage that could end up being extremely costly downrange.
COME SEE US
Extraordinary care and top-tier comfort for our patients represent foundational principles at Advanced Smile Care. For nearly 40-years, our team led by Dr. Tony Thomas DDS, has been San Antonio’s premier dental practice for creating transformational smiles. Many dentists are limited by the services they provide. They don’t have the expertise to offer specialized services. But at Advanced Smile Care, we do it all, whether it be a full-smile makeover, dental implants, dentures or sedation to get you through your treatment. Whether you need a cavity filled or a full set of dental implants, cosmetic treatment or require sedation dentistry, our team promises to provide you with the care you deserve. As we like to say, “It shouldn’t hurt to smile.”