What is COVID doing to your teeth?
Dr Clara Gibson
We are all well aware of the huge impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the health of millions around the world. And sadly, we know it is taking a huge toll financially, mentally and socially.
But, there may be other effects that you are less aware of, like the detrimental effects on your teeth.
In the initial stages of the pandemic, many dental clinics were closed, except for dental emergencies. Routine dental examination may therefore have been cancelled or postponed. The implication of this is that routine prevention was put on hold, and small dental issues may have been left, creating bigger issues later on. Preventative treatments such as fluoride application and sealing the deep grooves of back molar teeth are just a couple of examples of procedures may not have occurred. Similarly, many patients who needed small fillings a few months ago might now require much bigger fillings as the dental decay has progressed. Unfortunately bigger fillings may need root canal treatment or protective crown placement to hold the tooth together. Early detection of dental issues is always the better option!
Working & Snacking at home
Many of us have adapted to working from home and while this has the great advantage of eliminating commutes, it has also meant a huge change in routine for many patients. Studies have shown that patients report brushing their teeth much later on in the day or not brushing at all, since they no longer have to leave the house for work. Working from home also means popping in and out of the kitchen and continual snacking and coffee drinking. Frequent snacking on sugary foods is the main cause of tooth decay while upping your coffee intake could result in a noticeable increase in staining and darkening of your teeth.
Stress! Clenching & Grinding
The current pandemic is indisputably a stressful period for most of us. Stress manifests with many different clinical symptoms but clenching and grinding at night (‘bruxism’) is a very common one. Many dentists have reported a significant increase in bruxism and the complications can be profound, ranging from headaches, toothache, cracked and broken teeth, jaw ache, ear ache and even difficulty opening the mouth. A custom-made night-guard can be an inexpensive and non-invasive way of managing and preventing these symptoms, until life returns to something approaching ‘normal’.
Some patients have been tempted by ‘direct-to-consumer’ teeth straightening options heavily advertised online. The patient takes a mould of their own teeth, and clear aligner braces are posted out to them. Many orthodontists have noticed an increasing number of patients attending their clinics looking for help with correction treatments following the patient attempting this DIY orthodontics. It is always important to see a specialist orthodontist or experienced dentist for a thorough examination and diagnosis before starting any treatment. Some remote brace options may offer this service so it is important to research fully the options before you choose or ask your orthodontist for advice.
The silver lining of working from home is that now may be the best time to have an orthodontic consultation to discuss your options for teeth-straightening. You will be on your way to your dream smile once we are ready to throw away the masks and socialise again. If you would like more information about any of these issues or would like to talk to a dentist about your teeth, contact us at email@example.com. For more information on orthodontics click here