Teeth Grinding and the Pandemic
Headaches, jaw fatigue, broken teeth.
In our 20 years in dental practice, we haven't seen anything like it. We've noticed a huge uptick in the number of our patients in the last two years suffering from the effects of teeth grinding. According to data from the National Sleep Foundation from before the pandemic, 8 percent of adults grind their teeth at night. Our observations is that during the pandemic that number has risen to about 20 percent or one in every five adults in Canada.
Teeth grinding has many causes including stress and anxiety and we've all had our fair share of that in the last two years. Teeth grinding is also caused by an abnormal bite, sleep disorders, as well as alcohol and tobacco use.
The typical symptoms of teeth grinding are:
- headaches, especially upon waking up
- jaw soreness- teeth that are sore to eating
- broken and loose teeth
That being said, most people with bruxism, the technical term for teeth grinding are not aware of the condition. Usually as dentists, we will notice the signs of bruxism from the increased wear and tear on the teeth as well as the increased frequency of fractures.
There are several things that can be done to treat bruxism. The first is to become aware that you are grinding your teeth, whether during the day or at night time. For daytime grinding, reminding yourself to keep your jaws parted and sticking your tongue between your top and bottom teeth will help. For night time grinding, try to establish a relaxing nightime routine that includes medition and non stress inducing TV. Sleeping on your side also helps reduce night time bruxism.
If you are suspicious this pandemic has caused you to grind your teeth, or are experiencing symptoms related to bruxism, talk with your dentist and they can help
Dr. Yamen Ghamian and Dr. Habib Khoury