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Richard Hughes, DDS, FACS
The COVID-19 Pandemic and Oral Health
Richard E. Hughes, DDS
. http://www.erhughesdds.com/

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Oral Health

We all are going through these prolonged stressful times of COVID-19, with lockdowns, social isolation, disruption in business and education and loss of income for many. I have noticed in my practice and have discussed with dental colleagues around the USA, the acute effects of stress on the oral cavity. People are presenting with fractured teeth, dry mouth (xerostomia), inflamed gums, TMJ issues and an increased rate of dental decay or cavities. These are not the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, but from acute psychological stress.

The fractured/cracked teeth, is from psychological stress related clenching, poor posture from makeshift home workstations, causing bruxism or grinding of teeth and poor sleeping patterns. Many a time, cracked teeth will need crowns or caps for restoration and even extraction and placement of a dental implant(s). A cracked tooth can cause excruciating pain. Stress and bruxing also causes some of the TMJ issues that can be painful and disrupting to eating food. The dry mouth syndrome or xerostomia is caused by some medications, but we are seeing an increase in dental decay in people not taking these medications and is most likely due people being in a “fright flight” mode that makes the dry mouth and causes an associated bad breath. The dry mouth syndrome may partially be due to mouth breathing while wearing face mask. Mouth breathing does cause irritation and redness of the gums and discoloration of the front teeth.

Inflamed and bleeding gums are also, but not solely caused by mouth breathing while wearing a facemask and psychological stress. Prolonged and severe stress can cause “Vincent’s Infection,” commonly known as “Trench Mouth” which makes the gums painful to the touch.

Please see a dentist if you are experiencing any of these dental problems. Please see your physician and or mental health care provider, if you are experiencing stress and anxiety due to these life challenges. Try to find something relaxing to do for your mental health. Please try to keep a positive attitude.

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