More People Are Having Cracked Teeth Right Now: Here's Why

The COVID-19 health crisis has been devastating in and of itself, not to mention wreaking havoc on our mental health and our economic wellbeing. What is less well-known, however, is the secondary impact it has had, implicated as it's been in a number of health conditions not directly related to the virus itself. Kids are going unvaccinated, babies aren't being tested for lead poisoning, and we're all suffering from such varied maladies as hair loss, insomnia, and weight gain (or loss). Not to mention we're now afflicted with such heretofore unknown conditions as "Zoom fatigue" and suddenly having to ponder such complicated questions as to whether we need to wear masks while working out or while having close encounters of the quarantine kind (if we even have any inclination left for the latter at all).

Basically, our bodies have been going straight to you-know-where for the past 6 months. And now we bring you even more joyous news: you can add to the already lengthy list of things you never thought to worry about before this year the fact that, according to one New York dentist, the pandemic has been seriously detrimental to our teeth (via The New York Times).

Stress has us all grinding our molars

Tammy Chen, D.D.S. wrote in an NYT article a few weeks back that she'd "seen more tooth fractures in the last six weeks than in the previous six years." She says that ever since she reopened her office for non-emergency procedures in June, she's been seeing on average three to four fractures per day — and sometimes over six. As for the reason for the surge in tooth trauma, she says one answer that seems obvious is pandemic-induced stress and anxiety, something that "leads to clenching and grinding, which can damage the teeth." 

Chen also notes two additional factors that may be affecting our teeth. One is our non-ergonomic workstations as we phone (or Zoom) in our jobs from home, since poor daytime posture can lead to nighttime tooth grinding. Secondly, she speaks of how our messed-up sleep habits also translate to a "battle-ready state of arousal" in which "all that tension goes straight to the teeth."

As to how we can avoid cracking our own teeth, she advises trying to set up a better work station instead of slumping on the couch, and also getting up and moving throughout the day. A relaxing pre-bedtime bath might help with sleeping issues, too... and if all else fails (or even if it doesn't), she suggests wearing a dental nightguard. And also, make an appointment to see your dentist now that they're open for business again! Preventative dentistry, after all, is the very best kind.