Healthbeat: Dentists see increase in tooth fractures amid COVID-19 pandemic

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — You may have heard of the pandemic weight gain called the “Quarantine 15”. You may have also heard about “Mask Mouth” from wearing a face mask which can lead to everything from bad breath to gum disease.

But did you know there’s also an increase in tooth fractures? Some reasons behind it might be obvious but others might surprise you.

It’s been a busy few months for dentists like those at Frederick Dental Group since pandemic restrictions were lifted. While some patients have an appointment for a checkup or perhaps a filling, many others need emergency treatment for a tooth fracture.

“Like I just had one before when you came in the door. Yeah, we have them all the time,” said Dr. Alex Frederick, DMD with Frederick Dental Group.

Dr. Frederick says those fractures often start with a tooth in decay that is no match for what many of us have been doing during this anxiety-filled pandemic.

“People tend to get stressed out and that can definitely result in grinding of teeth,” he explained.

Dr. Frederick says one look in patients’ mouths reveals the telltale signs of teeth grinding or clenching.

“Well, there’s little bumps on your teeth called cusps especially noticeable on the back teeth. If you look you’ll see them flattening and wearing down,” Dr. Frederick said.

Some teeth grinders do it while they’re awake. But for many others it’s happening while they’re sleeping. One new theory behind nighttime teeth grinding has to do with working from home.

Poor posture interferes with the nerves in your neck and shoulder muscles which lead to the temporomandibular joint or TMJ for short. The TMJ connects your jaw to your skull and that tension connected to poor posture could could go straight to your teeth triggering the grinding that can cause a tooth fracture.

So how do you know if you need to see your dentist for a teeth grinding problem? One way is if your teeth are touching during the day other than when you’re chewing food

“And you’ll notice that as the day goes on, the bite changes. That’s a good indication as long as well as like I said the jaw pain, maybe pain that radiates into the temple, headache,” Dr. Frederick said.

The cure could be as simple as a mouth guard. Dr. Frederick says think of your teeth like a leaky faucet. If you don’t address it, eventually your floor is going to be flooded meaning you could have some serious tooth problems and perhaps a potential tooth fracture.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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