The Stress of COVID-19 Linked to Increased Oral Health Problems

Mar 17 2021

Written by- Jessica Arnold

Posted on October 30, 2020 

If you’ve been feeling a little on edge lately, you’re not alone. According to a report released by Harvard Medical School and the University of North Carolina, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased stress levels in the U.S. by 55%! Elevated stress levels can lead to many overall health problems, including issues affecting your oral health. And the current public health crisis is highlighting how lifestyle stressors can impact health and well-being. New data from the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute’s (HPI) COVID-19 impact poll reports that dentists have seen a rise in stress-related oral health conditions in their patients since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than half of the dentists polled reported an increase in teeth grinding (bruxism), chipped and cracked teeth, and disorders affecting the jaw muscles (temporomandibular symptoms). Over a quarter of these same dentists saw a rise in conditions like cavities and gum disease.

Stress affects your smile

It’s not uncommon for people under a lot of tension to begin grinding their teeth as a response to stress. Clenching the jaw or holding the teeth too tightly together during the day or while sleeping can cause jaw pain, earaches, headaches, and worn down teeth.

Increased stress can also take a toll on your immune system. Evidence suggests that a compromised immune system makes it easier for infections to develop and fester. It means the infections in the mouth, like canker or cold sores, can take longer to heal.

Stress can also lead to bad oral health habits like smoking, drinking, and neglecting a normal hygiene routine, including regular brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist.

Preventive oral care remains down

HPI survey showed that 99% of dental offices in the U.S. are open. Patient volume leveled off at just over 80% of pre-COVID-19 levels, indicating patients have not fully resumed the usual preventive care and treatment schedules. It is troubling news because it affects adults and children alike.

Ways to reduce stress-related oral health problems

It’s not possible to make the pandemic or the stress associated with it disappear overnight, but you can take steps to make your family’s oral health a priority and reduce stress-related oral health problems.

  1. If you find yourself clenching your jaw during the day, take a few moments to relax your face and jaw muscles and let your teeth part. If you’re a night-grinder, talk with your dentist about solutions, like a mouthguard.
  2. Build up your body’s immune system by getting enough rest and eating healthy foods full of vitamins and minerals.
  3. Brush and floss regularly. Keeping up a good oral hygiene habit at home is the number one way to prevent gum disease and tooth decay.
  4. Visit the dentist. Dental offices are open and taking extra measures to keep you and your family safe. It could include pre-appointment screenings, temperature checks, extra cleaning and sanitation measures, and additional personal protective equipment for patients and staff.

Be sure to make time for some of your favorite ways to relax, like reading a book or going for a bike ride. It is also a great opportunity to try something new! Making healthy choices will help keep your physical and mental health in tip-top shape.  

http://deltadentalazblog.com/covid-19-stress-linked-to-increased-oral-health-problems/

Recent Posts
    Nurturing Oral Health: A Comprehensive Guide to General Dentistry in Asheville, NC
    Feb 24 Read More
    Illuminating Smiles: Exploring the Transformative Realm of Cosmetic Dentistry | Fox Dental Associates in Asheville, NC
    Jan 24 Read More
    Family Dentistry in Asheville, NC: Your Local Guide to Comprehensive Oral Health Care
    Jan 24 Read More
    Preventive Dentistry: A Localized Approach for Asheville, NC Residents
    Dec 23 Read More
    Handling Dental Emergencies: A Comprehensive Guide Of Our Dental Office
    Dec 23 Read More
    The Benefits of Orthodontic Treatments for Adults
    Nov 23 Read More
    Trusting a New Dentist: A Guide to Ensuring a Confident Smile
    Nov 23 Read More
    The Impact of Stress on Dental Health
    Oct 23 Read More
    How to Determine If Your Dentist Is Good: Signs of Quality Dental Care
    Oct 23 Read More
    Dental Health and Kidney Disease: What You Need to Know
    Sep 23 Read More