THE PANDEMIC AND STRESS EFFECTS IN ORAL HEALTH

Here we are exactly eight months into the covid-19 pandemic. I can't believe that we are still able to practice dentistry and see actual patients, without the use of telehealth dentistry.  We are truly blessed to have such access in these turbulent times. People have been suffering a lot as a result of the pandemic and it has affected their oral health as well.

My dental office was closed for two months when the pandemic started in March in NY. We had a mandatory closure in place from the ADA (American Dental Association) even though we are considered essential workers.  It was not a bad idea at the time as we did not have access to much needed PPE ( protective personal equipment needed in a healthcare setting) as most of the ppe was being delegated to the hospitals and front line workers who were handling the covid cases influxing in the hospitals.

I, as well as my colleagues, have never faced a pandemic in our lives before this. This virus seemed more severe than the HIV virus, EBOLA virus, or any other virus we have ever faced.  Luckily we were given guidelines issued by the ADA on how to handle this pandemic. We were able to see emergencies only in June.  I reopened my office in July when it was declared safe to open in NY and we were once again fully operational by August.

While all this was going on I was receiving calls continuously from my patients during our lockdown that they were having severe teeth problems.  Most were related to stress and were causing teeth fracture and breaking as well as stress-related grinding or bruxism. We handled this over the phone as best we could and when we reopened we asked the patients to come in and be seen in the clinic.  The diagnosis in most of the cases was TMJ pain and grinding leading to wear and tear of the enamel of teeth.  My best recommendation for this kind of problem is the simple use of a nightguard to protect the teeth at night from stress-related bruxism.

A nightguard is a plastic device that is custom-fitted to the patient's teeth, either for the top arch or the bottom arch, and the patient is required to sleep with the device in the mouth. It is fairly inexpensive and most insurances cover it in part if not in full. It is the best anti-stress device we have in dentistry.  And trust me if you have TMJ problems it really works.

Come into our office and discuss with me or my staff if you have these types of bruxism issues and could benefit from the use of a nightguard. Remember, we can't control the pandemic or its effects on our lives but we certainly can control our reaction to it and take care of our health in the meantime.  Stay safe, and remember to also wear a mask when out and about, and especially during your visit to our office !!!

 

Author
Dr. Nabila Mannan

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