Australian dentists report surge in cases of tooth grinding during the pandemic
Dentists in Australia have reported a surge in the number of patients presenting with symptoms of tooth grinding during the pandemic.
Dentists across the country have experienced an increase in cases of symptoms linked to grinding and clenching the teeth, known as bruxism. It is thought that rising stress and anxiety levels have contributed to the increase.
The president of the Victorian branch of the Australian Dental Association, Dr Jeremy Sternson, said that he had seen record numbers of patients with cracked and broken teeth, chipped teeth, jaw pain and broken fillings since the start of the pandemic. In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Dr Sternson warned of a new pandemic of broken teeth and suggested that stress and treatment backlogs were taking their toll on the nation’s oral health.
Dr Sternson stated that many patients have reached the stage where they are losing teeth as a result of tooth grinding and being unable to access routine dental services. The bone tissue around the teeth becomes worn and thin and this increases the risk of damage and tooth loss. In the months and years ahead, there is likely to be an influx of patients who need restorative treatment and dental prostheses, including dentures, fillings, bridges and implants.
Like many countries across the world, dental clinics were among the first businesses to close during the early stages of the pandemic in 2020 in Australia. While practices were shut, patients were unable to access routine appointments, and many have gone two years or more without seeing a dentist. Minor problems have developed into more complex issues and dentists are seeing the effects of the pandemic every day in the treatment room.
Bruxism can damage the teeth and contribute to symptoms, such as headaches and jaw pain. Often, dentists recommend wearing a custom-made bite guard for chronic tooth grinding. This prevents contact between the top and bottom teeth while the individual sleeps.