A New York dentist has reported a curious phenomenon directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been a drastic increase in patients seeking treatment for teeth that have been damaged by grinding. A considerable amount of the problem has been linked to stress, as in people are traumatized by the pandemic and are nervously grinding their teeth in response, even if they're unaware that they're doing it. Regardless of what caused it, how can you reverse the damage caused by grinding? And how can you prevent it from happening again?
Repairing the Damage
If your grinding (which is officially known as bruxism) has caused you to crack your teeth, this damage must be repaired. Minor cracks can be repaired using dental cement, which is the same material used to fill a cavity. When your grinding has caused a portion of your tooth to chip off, your dentist can replace the missing section with a process known as dental bonding, which uses a dental composite resin to rebuild your tooth. When the tooth has actually been fractured and surface restoration will be ineffective, a root canal can be required, which will be followed by the fitting of a dental crown.
Protecting Your Teeth
Preventing further damage from grinding is important. Many dentists choose to address this by applying a protective sealant to teeth that are particularly at risk, namely your rear molars. The sealant is a special liquified plastic that hardens when applied to your teeth and light-cured. It's a quick and painless layer of protection for your teeth, although it will need to be periodically reapplied. While it protects your teeth from grinding, it doesn't prevent it, and so the sealant will be worn down.
But how do you actually prevent grinding? This is not so simple. When your grinding is caused by stress, then you should avoid that source of stress. This is easier said than done when it comes to stress-related to COVID-19. Still, it can be beneficial to teach yourself various methods of managing stress in your life. Medication can also have an effect in minimizing your grinding, as can directly-applied muscle relaxants, such as Botox. Your dentist might also suggest a customized night guard, which is a type of protective dental retainer to be worn while you sleep.
Grinding your teeth to some degree is fairly common, but there can be consequences for your dental health. Contact a dentist for more information.