Dentists Find ‘Masked Mouth’, Stress-Related Problems During COVID-19 Pandemic

Dentists Find 'Masked Mouth', Stress-Related Problems During COVID-19 Pandemic

Dr. Elena Hernandez-Kucey says it’s a topic dentists across North America have been talking about: a noticeable increase in stress-related dental problems during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re seeing more and more joint problems, people coming in (to clinics) are saying, ‘I’m not sleeping well, I’m waking up, my face hurts,'” Hernandez-Kucey told Global News .

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The Edmonton dentist explains that tension and anxiety, whether the patient is aware of it or not, can cause grinding and clenching of teeth.

“If that tooth maybe had a weak part… now we put a lot of stress and bending forces.

“It could cause a fracture or a nerve health complication of the tooth,” Hernandez-Kucey said.

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Staff at the University of Alberta dental clinic have faced similar issues over the past year.

They also notice a “masked mouth”.

“Some people, when they wear masks, tend to breathe through their mouths. So it can cause a dry mouth, ”Dr Liran Levin told Global News.

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The head of the U of A’s division of periodontics explains that drought can make gum disease worse or promote inflammation.

“Make sure you brush or clean your teeth even more than on a regular basis, because this dryness can help bacteria… create inflammation,” Levin said.

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He also recommends drinking more water and trying to breathe through your nose while wearing a mask.

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Hernandez-Kucey says there are some benefits to wearing a mask.

If you smell your own bad breath – or halitosis – it can be a sign of a potential infection, something you might not have noticed otherwise until it’s more advanced.

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Patients also take advantage of this period when all faces are covered to hide major dental work.

“Maybe someone could be a little nervous about having braces for example… or losing a front tooth… or losing all of their teeth and maybe going to dentures,” said Hernandez-Kucey.

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“It’s perfect because when we wear a mask, the mask… hides part of the process.”

The two dental professionals say patients who are afraid to leave home are postponing their appointments.

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“Maybe delaying what would have been an easy minor adjustment or a little filling, a little restoration, to now (become) something much bigger,” Hernandez-Kucey said.

Now is not the time to neglect oral health.

A recently published study in Qatar found that patients with periodontitis, the most severe form of gum disease, were at least three times more likely to have complications from COVID-19, including the need for assisted ventilation , admission to intensive care and death.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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