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Stress from pandemic causing cracked canines, dentists say

Stress from the pandemic results in tooth grinding and a mess in the mouth, dentists say.

SAN ANTONIO — Even with social distancing, partial lockdowns and many non-essential procedures put on hold, dentist offices across the country are busier than ever taking care of dental emergencies that are COVID-19 pandemic-related.

If they aren't from skipping that regular checkup, what is the cause of the cracked canines? 

The answer is simple: Stress. When you get stressed you grind your teeth, you clench your jaw, and that can lead to all sorts of messes in your mouth.

"We've definitely seen an uptick in emergency care and really quite a bit more extensive care than normal," Dr. Louis Garcia from Dominion Ridge Dentistry said.

Any type of inflammation in the mouth can turn any case of coronavirus into something much much worse.

"Your body is trying to fight two wars at one time, and by staying away from the dentist and not having regular hygiene check ups, 75% of the patients out there have some form of gum disease so that just weakens your system if you get stricken by COVID," Dr. Garcia said.

Credit: KENS 5

Some of the many mouth ailments on the rise include jaw pain, tooth sensitivity, migraines, cracked teeth and a new phenomenon known as mask mouth.

"Patients wearing a mask for the majority of the day are having a dry mouth syndrome by mouth breathing instead of breathing through their nose," Dr. Garcia said.

You need that saliva to prevent dry mouth and bacteria buildup. People are also taking medication to try to keep the stress of the pandemic at bay, but that causes dry mouth, too.

"A lot of the medications that are being prescribed during this pandemic are creating more problems in the mouth and creating instances where patients are more susceptible to a severe COVID infection," Dr. Garcia said.

He also said if you are a mouth breather, to drink plenty of fluids that don't contain sugar and to make sure you stick to your oral hygiene routine. He pointed out that top and bottom teeth should only be touching when we are eating or drinking. If you notice them touching at other times of the day, that is a sign that you have a tooth grinding problem.