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Updated: Jan 19, 2021

May 17, 2020 - Washington state has had over 21,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, many of which have been right here in the greater Seattle area. Your life has likely been affected in every way. You may be working more than usual, working less than usual, or simply doing your best to cope with changes in how everyday activities are carried out. Indeed, COVID-19 might have greatly increased your stress levels. Increased stress, in turn, can lead to bruxism in Bellevue. Let’s discuss what bruxism is, how it relates to stress, and why you should visit your dentist for help if you are experiencing it.

Bruxism and Stress

Bruxism is habitual, often involuntary grinding and clenching of the teeth. It usually happens at night. Stress can cause this issue because stress leads to muscle tension throughout the body, including in the muscles that control the jaw. Frequent teeth grinding and clenching may be the result.

The Consequences of Bruxism

Human teeth are very durable. In fact, tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. However, that does not mean that teeth are invulnerable. Over time, grinding and clenching can lead to serious consequences, including:

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  • Worn tooth enamel

  • Sensitive teeth

  • Receding gums

  • TMJ dysfunction (which can lead to chronic jaw aches, headaches, and a number of other complications)

  • Broken teeth

  • Chewing difficulties

Addressing Bruxism

The first step in addressing bruxism is recognizing that it may be a problem for you. Since you might be grinding and clenching your teeth while you sleep, you have to look for subtler indications that bruxism is affecting you. For example, you may frequently wake up with a sore jaw, or your teeth may be more sensitive than they used to be. You can also ask your significant other if they have heard you grinding your teeth.

If you suspect that you are suffering from bruxism, schedule an appointment with your dentist in Bellevue. They will assess your teeth and let you know if bruxism has already damaged them. They will also recommend a method for preventing future bruxism. The most common method for addressing this issue is the use of a custom-made nightguard. This small dental appliance will place a barrier between your teeth while you sleep, stopping them from contacting and harming one another.

You may also find it beneficial to work on a stress management strategy. Taking more time to relax, spending time with friends and family via video calls, and getting plenty of exercise could all help you to cope with the stress of COVID-19 in a healthy way.

Is COVID-19 endangering your smile? If you suspect it is, seek help from your dentist right away!

About the Author

Dr. Lily Xue Du was born in China but grew up in North America, where she attended dental school at Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry at the University of Southern California (USC). She is a member of numerous professional dental associations and is always bettering herself through continuing education. If you are concerned about bruxism, she would be happy to help you find relief. Contact our office at 425-869-7560 to learn more about Dr. Du and her services.

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