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We are all aware of the huge impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the health of millions around the world, but Covid is also having a detrimental impact on teeth with skipped appointments, teeth grinding and extra snacking. Read on for common Covid dental issues from a leading international dental clinic…
In the initial stages of the pandemic, many dental clinics were closed, except for dental emergencies. Routine dental examination may therefore have been cancelled or postponed. The implication of this is that routine prevention was put on hold, and small dental issues may have been overlooked, creating bigger issues later.
Preventative treatments such as fluoride application and sealing the deep grooves of back molar teeth are a couple of examples of procedures which may not have occurred during Covid lockdowns. Similarly, many patients who needed small fillings a few months ago might now require much bigger fillings, as the dental decay has progressed. Unfortunately, bigger fillings may need root canal treatment or protective crown placement to hold the tooth together. Early detection of dental issues is always the better option!
Working and snacking at home
Many of us have adapted to working from home and while this has the great advantage of eliminating commutes, it has also meant a huge change in dental routines. Studies have shown that patients report brushing their teeth much later in the day or not brushing at all, since they no longer have to leave the house for work. Working from home also means popping in and out of the kitchen and continual snacking and coffee drinking. Frequent snacking on sugary foods is the main cause of tooth decay, while upping your coffee intake could result in a noticeable increase in staining and darkening of your teeth.
Stress! Clenching and grinding
The current pandemic is an extremely stressful period for most of us. Stress manifests with many different clinical symptoms but clenching and grinding at night (‘bruxism’) is very common. Many dentists have reported a significant increase in bruxism. The complications can be profound, ranging from headaches, toothache, cracked and broken teeth, jaw ache, earache and even difficulty opening the mouth. A custom-made night guard can be an inexpensive and non-invasive way of managing and preventing these symptoms, until life returns to something approaching ‘normal’.
Some patients have been tempted by ‘direct-to-consumer’ teeth straightening options heavily advertised online. The patient takes a mould of their own teeth, and clear aligner braces are posted out to them. Many orthodontists have noticed an increasing number of patients attending their clinics looking for help with correction treatments, following the patient attempting this DIY orthodontics. It is always important to see a specialist orthodontist or experienced dentist for a thorough examination and diagnosis before starting any treatment. Some remote brace options may offer this service, so it is important to research fully the options before you choose or ask your orthodontist for advice.
The silver lining of working from home is that now may be the best time to have an orthodontic consultation to discuss your options for teeth straightening. You will be on your way to your dream smile once we are ready to throw away the masks and socialise again.