It’s all over the news. COVID-19 is causing cracked teeth. It's not the virus itself, but stress related to the virus, working and going to school remotely, social distancing, and everything that goes with it. No doubt the political climate is somewhere in that mix, too.
Pandemic stress, quarantine fatigue, mask burnout, online overload—whatever you want to call it, it’s an additional stress that people across the globe are experiencing. Stress comes out in many different ways, and each person responds differently, but we’re definitely seeing a trend of stress-related issues in dentistry.
How COVID Has Affected Dentistry
The aftereffects of dental office closures early in the pandemic combined with the stress-related conditions are now hitting the industry in some unexpected ways. According to American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) member and past president, Nicholas Davis, DDS, FAACD, of Newport Beach, California, “Dental stress has manifested itself in the increase of bruxism and clenching. As a result, I have noticed an increase in fractured teeth, broken restorations, TMD issues, headaches, and neck and shoulder problems. Almost on a daily basis, I am seeing patients with some sort of stress related tooth, joint, or muscle issue.”
But it’s not just cracked teeth bringing people into the dentist’s office. AACD member, Jeff Lineberry, DDS, AAACD, of Mooresville, North Carolina, says he’s also concerned about his patients’ gums. “We’re definitely seeing an increase in people with gum conditions getting worse along with an increase in decay rates. The combination of not coming into the office due to the pandemic, poor eating habits, and frequent mouth breathing due to masks adds to the negative impacts of stress on the body.
Related Dental Concerns
The overarching theme from AACD dentists is that treating the stress is a primary concern. Whether you practice mindfulness, begin a yoga habit, or seek professional medical help, addressing the feelings you’re having now is as important as treating the symptoms they are causing.
Salvatore Lotardo, DDS, AAACD, of New York and President of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) echoes this sentiment: “The key to any treatment plan is understanding the cause of the current condition. This allows you to arrive at the correct diagnosis and develop a treatment plan that will have a predictable, long-term, successful outcome. So, on the surface, treatment of a cracked tooth may seem simple; restore the crack with a crown or other appropriate restoration and that is it. However, if the underlying cause has not been addressed, your treatment is susceptible to failure.”
Preventing Stress from Causing Dental Problems
AACD member dentists are not just interested in giving you a crown and sending you on your way. The bigger picture includes preventing problems in the first place by managing stress.
Dr. Lotardo stresses how important early intervention is. “If you have pain when chewing, muscle or jaw joint pain, or worn or loose teeth, be sure to see your dentist as soon as possible. Left untreated, patients can have long-term consequences that may result in more cracked teeth and potential loss of teeth.”
To learn more about the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and its educational offerings, many membership benefits, and more, visit www.AACD.com.