Research shows that stress provoked by the coronavirus pandemic has manifested in many ways connected to our oral health, including jaw-clenching and jaw pain both during the night and day.
Experts all over the world have described such teeth-grinding behaviours as bruxism and temporomandibular disorder (TMD). The temporomandibular joint can rotate backwards, forwards, and from side to side. it’s considered one of the most complex joints in the human body. This flesh-to-bone intersection, a tangle of muscles and ligaments, facilitates chewing, speaking and swallowing.
In particular, a study published in October 2020 in the Journal of Clinical Medicine showed that the constant threat of illness, uncertainty and self-isolation had caused an increase in patients suffering from bruxism from 10% to 36%. Furthermore, the severity of people already suffering from the condition rose by about 15%.
The majority of teeth-grinding occurs at night, so it remains challenging for patients to become aware they are doing it. Missing the initial symptoms of bruxism is known to have severe consequences to a person’s smile and overall oral health.
Teeth are likely to decrease in length, due to attrition and cracks may alter the shape and look. Patients report pain during jaw opening and biting down and chronic headaches. There are several treatment options for patients, who have started suffering from bruxism during the pandemic.
However, awareness is key.
Are your teeth currently touching? Even as you read this article? If so, that’s a sure sign that you’re doing some damage — your teeth shouldn’t touch throughout the day unless you’re eating and chewing your food. Instead, your jaw should be relaxed, with a bit of space between the teeth when the lips are closed. Be mindful and stop yourself from grinding when you catch yourself doing it.
For patients experiencing TMD, Botox is an excellent solution to get those overworked muscles to relax. Botox is an alternative treatment for TMD and has been known to alleviate symptoms associated with jaw tension and pain. It’s active ingredients effectively “freezes” the muscles so that they can no longer seize up and cause discomfort. The injection usually takes effect between one to three days after injection and the positive outcomes can last three to six months.
We can all agree that we are so over this pandemic and its short- and long-term effects on our health and our world. But until we come out on the other side, watch yourself for physical manifestations of stress. If you are grinding or clenching your teeth, contact us at 020 3974 1777, and we will get you the help you need!
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