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During the pandemic, people crunch more at night



In the six months since the pandemic began, health problems have emerged that are tangentially related to COVID-19. Like coronaphobia, the fear many of us felt about returning to public life after quarantine. And doomscrolling, the compulsive habit of focusing on dire headlines at the expense of our own well-being. And now we can add dental problems to the list.

In an article published this week by the New York TimesDentist Tammy Chen DDS announced that she has seen at least three patients a day with tooth fractures since her practice reopened in June. “I̵

7;ve seen more tooth fractures in the past six weeks than in the past six years,” she wrote.

The cause? Bruxism, which consists of excessive teeth grinding and / or clenching of the jaw, often at night. This is usually a symptom of stress, and so it makes a lot of sense that in the past few months, Chen has seen a huge increase in tooth fractures, which occur as a result of the grinding that wears away tooth enamel. These are stressful times, after all. But what makes bruxism such a problem is that we’re not always aware that we are doing it – and open stress isn’t the only cause.

Believe it or not, posture can also play a role in our dental health. One possible contributing factor to the rising number of people clenching their teeth is the recent office move when the majority of the country began working from home during the lockdown, often having to improvise a desk from what had them around the house.Some cases have resulted in bending over a laptop for hours.

“Nerves in your neck and shoulder muscles lead into the jaw joint (TMJ), which connects the jawbone to the skull,” said Chen. Bad posture during the day can lead to a grinding problem at night.

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A lack of sleep can also make the problem worse, according to Chen. “I’ve listened to patients after patients describe sudden restlessness and insomnia,” she wrote. “These are hallmarks of an overactive or dominant sympathetic nervous system that drives the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response. Imagine a gladiator preparing for battle: clenching his fists, clenching his jaw. Due to the stress of the Coronavirus keeps the body in a combat-ready state of arousal rather than resting and recharging. All of that tension goes right to the teeth. “

There are a couple of things you can do can Try to make it easier to grind your teeth when you go to sleep. In addition to investing in a night watchman, Chen recommends taking a bath in the evening, doing decompression sickness exercises to lengthen the spine and relieving postural pressure, and practicing breathing techniques just before bed.

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