24 Nov

Australian dentists report increase in tooth grinding during the pandemic

Dentists in Australia have reported an increase in tooth grinding during the pandemic.

According to the president of the Victorian branch of the Australian Dental Association, Jeremy Sternson, dentists have seen a sharp increase in the number of patients presenting with cracked teeth.

In an average year, Dr Sternson explained, a dentist would see a “handful” of patients with a cracked tooth, but recently, dentists have seen patients every day.

Dr Sternson, a practising dentist based in Melbourne, said that most of the patients he sees have no previous history of grinding their teeth.

The clinic Dr Sternson works at was only open for urgent care during large parts of the pandemic and one of the most common reasons people were coming in was split teeth.

These were patients that had no previous problems with weak teeth or tooth grinding and many didn’t even have a filling in the tooth.

Dr Emily Pow, a fellow Melbourne dentist and a councillor at the Victorian Dental Association, said that there has been an uptick in people with cracked and split teeth, particularly among young and middle-aged patients. Examples of patients she has seen recently include a mother trying to juggle working with home schooling.

Dr Pow suggested that rising stress levels have contributed to an increase in symptoms, such as cracked and worn teeth and headaches, jaw pain and muscle tension.

Dr Pow said that 2021 has been a lot of worse in terms of patients experiencing symptoms of tooth grinding and she has issued far more night guards, which are used to prevent tooth grinding, than in a normal year.

The stress of lockdowns and the pandemic have undoubtedly influenced oral health, with many people worrying about their finances, jobs and staying safe and well.