Maida Smiles (W. London)

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13 Jun

Covid-related tooth issues – ‘Detection & Prevention’


It’s no secret that pandemic-related anxiety is having a widespread impact on general health and wellbeing.

Dentists around the world are now beginning to report emerging trends thought to be influenced by Covid-induced stress. For instance, a notable increase in jaw pain, tooth sensitivity, achiness in the cheeks and migraines alongside growing complaints of tooth fractures or cracking teeth.

A series of explanations link this recent surge in tooth trauma cases to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Firstly, an unprecedented number of people are now working from home. While some have been able to migrate happily to existing home offices, others have been forced to create makeshift workstations. This has ultimately led to large proportions of people sitting for hours on end with poor posture, including curvature of the spine and hunched shoulders. The dental concern with this is that poor daytime posture can trigger a grinding problem at night.

In addition, many of us simply aren’t getting the restorative sleep we require due to corona-related restlessness. While it remains a natural reaction for the body to enter a ‘fight or flight’ response when under duress, this process also overstimulates the sympathetic nervous system, and much of this tension goes straight to the teeth.

Much work is needed to drive greater awareness of ‘Covid-related tooth issues’ as this rise in tooth pain and a lack of understanding of critical causes may compound sensitivity. Here at Maida Smiles, we encourage our patients to remain vigilant and guide them on ‘detection and prevention’ measures.

For instance, clenching and grinding are common triggers, yet many people are unaware they are doing them. Teeth should not generally be touched throughout the day unless you eat and chew your food. Instead, your jaw should be relaxed, with a bit of space between the teeth when the lips are closed. Suppose you become aware of a clenching or grinding issue. In that case, you may consider getting a night guard or retainer, which promotes correct alignment, prevents grinding, and perhaps even extends use during the day. This will provide a physical barrier to absorb pressure.

Those who continue to work from home should also consider installing a functional and ergonomic workstation to reinforce good posture. Again, it is all too easy to slouch in comfortable home furniture not necessarily designed for work purposes. When seated, our shoulders should be over our hips, and our ears should be over our shoulders. Computer screens should be at eye level, and you can also try mixing it up with standing and incorporating more movement. Phone calls and other tasks present an opportunity to find relief from a seated position.

We also highly recommend incorporating some short stretching exercises into your day. For example, a five-minute window before logging on and after logging off to bookend your day. With consistency, this new routine will bring huge residual benefits. It’s essential to focus on stretching your back and decompressing your spine, which can become stiff and achy following long seated periods.

While we advise everyone to be especially mindful of oral health during this period, we strongly encourage people to maintain six-monthly check-ups. Those who may detect specific issues with tooth sensitivity or tooth fractures should seek professional guidance at their earliest convenience.