Grinding your teeth lately? Pandemic stress might be to blame

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DENVER (KDVR) – If you’ve been grinding your teeth lately, you’re not alone.

Dentists across Colorado are seeing a spike in patients during the pandemic who are complaining about teeth grinding and jaw clenching-related issues.

“Since March, when the pandemic started, we’ve had a lot more patients coming in who are complaining of soreness in the teeth. They’re not sure if it’s a tooth ache. We really couldn’t figure out what was going on,” said Dr. Daniel Zeppelin.

Zeppelin is a dental surgeon with Aspenwood Dental Associates and Dental Implant Center in Aurora. He believes stress is likely to blame.

“It all seems to relate back to clenching and grinding, which I attribute a lot to just the general stress we’re under due to the pandemic and the changes in our lives,” Zeppelin said. “Anytime we’re stressed, our body is going to have some response to it, whether it’s increased heart rate or blood pressure. If we’re stressed, we’ll also clench and grind our teeth.”

In fact, a lot of that clenching and grinding can happen at night when we’re not even aware of it.

“And that grinding, especially at nighttime, can be really heavy pressures. So people will wake up with headaches, neck aches,” Zeppelin explained.

Grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw can result in cracked teeth, root canal issues and plenty of other costly things.

According to Zeppelin, to help alleviate teeth grinding, you should consciously remind yourself throughout the day, “My teeth should not be touching.”

“Our teeth only touch for a very, very short time – or should only touch for a short time during the day,” he said.

Zeppelin even suggests setting a timer for every five minutes to help remind yourself.

“When that timer goes off, are your teeth touching or are they separated?” asked Zeppelin.

For nighttime grinding, Zeppelin suggests ordering a custom-made night-guard from your dentist.

Overall, he also suggests people get more exercise or find something that relaxes them.

“If you can burn some of that tension of during the day, hopefully your body isn’t as prone to grinding at night or any other times during the day,” Zeppelin said.

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