I. Stephen Brown, DDS
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The Perio Group Blog

Cracked Teeth Due to Grinding During COVID-19

History will remember 2020 for its many stress-inducing challenges. The world has undergone drastic changes, increasing the tension that most people feel. As a result, Dr. I. Stephen Brown and his team have seen more patients with cracked teeth than ever before. This problem seems to stem from excessive grinding due to mass amounts of stress. It led to Dr. Brown dubbing this problem the ‘COVID-clench.’

The good news is that the technology exists to treat this problem. Dr. Brown can craft custom appliances that fit in your mouth, preventing excessive grinding at night. If you suffer from the COVID-clench, this could be the perfect treatment to make your night easier.

How does grinding cause cracked teeth?

Teeth grinding – or bruxism – is a condition that affects millions of patients across the US. It’s a relatively serious condition in that it can lead to severe tooth damage. To make matters worse, most people with bruxism don’t realize they have it. Teeth grinding is a subconscious act that manifests itself due to stress or other conditions. It happens without thinking about it, usually when you’re in bed at night.

Naturally, your teeth are very hard – after all, they’re designed to break through food and chew things for years on end. In fact, one study revealed that tooth enamel is harder than steel, but breaks much easier. Therefore, teeth grinding presents a serious problem as you have two hard surfaces moving against one another. When this happens day after day, your teeth wear down, and the enamel starts to chip away.

As you may already know, enamel’s primary purpose is to protect your teeth. It’s essentially a protective layer that stops the rest of the tooth from being damaged. When it begins to wear down, what do you think will happen? A lack of enamel means the tooth is exposed, making it more prone to severe issues. As the grinding continues, your unprotected teeth move against one another, causing cracks to form.

What is COVID-clench?

COVID-clench is a term coined by Dr. Brown that relates to a common issue seen by dentists across the country. While the world entered lockdown, dental practices were busier than ever. Dentists saw more patients with cracked teeth than ever before – was this a coincidence? Or is it directly linked to the effects of COVID-19.

The exact causes of teeth grinding are hard to pinpoint as anyone can fall into this bad habit. Nevertheless, studies point to a link between emotional stability and bruxism. To summarize, individuals with high levels of stress are found to grind their teeth more often. Therefore, Dr. Brown believes that the stress of COVID-19 is causing more people to grind their teeth. You may stay up late every night worrying about your job, health, or financial future. All of these things are significant concerns during a pandemic. As a result, you could start grinding your teeth as an impulsive reaction to this stress. Hence, the COVID-clench is born. It is simply no coincidence that there has been an increase in cracked and fractured teeth alongside an ongoing pandemic.

What happens when cracked teeth are left untreated?

Some patients will have cracked teeth that can be left alone. These are surface cracks that provide no pain and present no further issues. There’s no need to have them treated, but you can if you want.

However, deeper cracks need to be treated as soon as possible. When they’re not, they will gradually get worse. Consider what a crack does on the surface of a rock. It weakens the entire structure, making the rock more prone to breaking apart. The same happens with your teeth; if cracks are deep enough to cause pain, they will eventually lead to fractures or chips of your teeth coming out.

Ultimately, this can leave you with a very painful tooth that needs to be extracted. Or, the entire tooth falls out of its own accord. Either way, it’s recommended that you consult with a dentist if you notice any pain or cracks in your teeth.

How are cracked teeth and bruxism treated?

Cracked teeth can be treated in numerous ways depending on the severity of the crack. Some cracks are dealt with using composite bonding to fill in space. This restores the look and function of the teeth. For more severe cracks, a crown may need to be placed on the tooth, protecting it from further damage. It’s not uncommon for the deepest cracks to require root canal treatment if the pulp is exposed. Extractions are also common if the tooth is damaged beyond repair, paving the way for tooth-replacement treatments.

Moreover, all of these treatments are pointless if the cause isn’t addressed. You can restore your teeth, but the cracks will come back if the grinding persists. This is why you must treat bruxism alongside the cracks. Dr. Brown and his team can provide you with the best treatment for this problem. His office contains the best scanning technology to craft custom-made oral appliances that fit in your mouth. This will protect your teeth from grinding and can be worn at night to prevent the COVID-clench from doing its damage.

Naturally, you should also work on dealing with the issues that cause you to grind your teeth. During a pandemic, it’s hard to reduce stress and feel less tense. So, some protective oral appliances work best to ensure your teeth don’t suffer from excessive grinding. Over time, your grinding may subside, so you can stop wearing your mouthpiece to bed.

Contact Dr. Brown for a Zoom consultation

Do you suffer from cracked teeth due to excessive grinding? If so, contact us to schedule a consultation. Appointments are available in the office, but you can begin with a virtual consultation on Zoom. This ensures that your problem is assessed and treatment is deemed necessary. The consultation is entirely free, and you can schedule your in-office appointment at the same time. Here, you will undergo a thorough exam and assessment before being scanned for your custom-made oral appliance.

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