According to survey figures compiled by the American Dental Association (ADA) and reported in October, there has been a 59% increase in teeth grinding, or bruxism, along with a 63% increase in chipped and cracked teeth since March of 2020. when the pandemic began.
Higher Anxiety and Work-From-Home May be Factors
The ADA suggests that this may be due to higher anxiety levels during the pandemic and poor posture from a work-from-home environment. Both anxiety and poor posture can cause people to clench their jaw and grind their teeth. These are involuntary behaviors that stem from added stress. The result is increased pressure on the teeth that weakens them and makes them more prone to crack.
Teeth Damage is Cumulative
Teeth are not a muscle so they don’t get stronger with exercise. In fact, they just get weaker and weaker the more you traumatize them. And the damage is cumulative. So you might not break the tooth the first time you grind, it just continues to add up.
Teeth Exert a Strong Grinding Force
Regular chewing produces about 20 to 30 pounds of force on your teeth with food acting as a buffer between the teeth. But when you grind your teeth, there is no buffer and the grinding is 10 times stronger — like 200 to 300 pounds of force. Enough force to crack a walnut.
Indications You May be Grinding Your Teeth
There a a couple of indications you may be grinding your teeth. 1. You may notice muscle soreness in your jaw from clenching your teeth. 2. Sensitivity or tooth pain which may be caused by a crack which can expose nerves inside a tooth.
What You Can Do
If you think you may be clenching or grinding your teeth, tell your hygienist or dentist during your next visit. If you are experiencing sensitivity or pain, make an appointment to get checked. Your dentist can diagnose if you may need a night guard, or if you have fractured your tooth, and will discuss the treatment options for your condition.