26 Jan

Pandemic prompts surge in tooth grinding symptoms

The pandemic has contributed to a surge in tooth grinding symptoms.

Dentists in the UK have reported an increase in the number of patients displaying signs of grinding and clenching in the last 18-24 months.

Tooth grinding, known as bruxism, is a subconscious action, which occurs during sleep and causes the top and bottom teeth to rub together. Bruxism can be caused by taking certain types of medication, problems with the bite and loose or uneven fillings or crowns, but it is often linked to stress and anxiety.

Dentists, including Dr Azad Eryumlu, from the Banning Group, believe that the stress of the pandemic has caused more patients to develop symptoms of bruxism. Grinding and clenching the teeth is more common in people who experience severe or long-term stress.

The signs of bruxism include damage to the teeth and tooth wear, headaches, jaw pain, popping and clicking noises when moving the jaw, restricted movement in the TMJ (temporomandibular joint), facial aches and neck and shoulder pain.

Dr Eryumlu suggests that there has been a 20% increase in the number of patients presenting with symptoms of bruxism during the Covid-19 crisis at his practice and this is a trend that has been spotted across the country. High levels of stress and anxiety have sparked a surge in dental issues, as well as an increase in mental health symptoms and signs.

Bruxism is often a temporary issue, but it is important for patients to get checked out if they notice symptoms, or their partner tells them that they have been grinding their teeth a lot. Grinding and clenching can cause significant damage to the teeth, as well as increasing the risk of jaw, neck, shoulder and back pain, headaches and stiffness and immobility in the jaw.

For people who have symptoms of bruxism, dentists often recommend wearing a guard at night to prevent the top and bottom arches of teeth touching during sleep.