It’s no surprise that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have reached far and wide and impacted each and every one of us in more ways than perhaps we even want to acknowledge. On the top of the list of concerns, both short- and long-term is the impact COVID-19 is having on mental health. Without a doubt, it has caused a level of stress and anxiety that has never been so widespread. One of the ways in which many individuals’ stress presents itself is – inside their mouth. Yes, you read that right. There’s more of a connection to mental well-being and your dental health than you might think.
Some COVID-19 Dental Stats: Mental and Dental Health
According to a recent poll from the American Dental Association (ADA), dentists have seen an increased prevalence of stress-related oral health conditions.
Some of the findings from the dentists surveyed included
- Over 70% seeing an increase of patients experiencing teeth grinding and clenching, conditions often associated with stress. This is up from just under 60% in the fall.
- 71% reported an increase in the prevalence of teeth grinding and clenching
- 63% saw an increase in chipped teeth
- 63% saw an increase in cracked teeth
- And 62% saw an increase in temporomandibular joint disorder symptoms (TMJ), which include headaches and jaw pain.
In addition to stress-related side effects presenting themself in your mouth, mask mouth is another real challenge lately. While it’s a necessity to wear a mask to reduce the spread of COVID-19, it’s important to be mindful of other implications it can have on your health.
So what is mask mouth?
You may be asking, what is mask mouth? While wearing a mask is necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19, there are some other health implications to be cognizant of that the mask can cause in your mouth. Mask mouth describes the oral side effects of wearing a mask for an extended period of time.
What can cause mask mouth?
Due to wearing a mask, you may experience disrupted breathing, dehydration, and an increase in breathing recycled air.
When it comes to breathing while wearing a mask, many people are likely to breathe more rapidly and shallowly instead of using their diaphragm. And when you breathe out of your mouth, it decreases saliva production. Less saliva equals increased dryness and food particles not being as readily washed away.
With the mask barrier, individuals are more likely to forget or skip drinking enough fluids throughout the day. Being dehydrated can lead to bad breath, tooth decay, and can lead to headaches, and increased fatigue.
Breathing in our recycled air does increase the amount of carbon dioxide in our bodies (not to any dangerous levels, however). But the added amount can increase your oral acidity which can cause gum disease and other inflammatory conditions.
While none of these are reasons to not wear a mask, they are important to be mindful of and to take note of any seemingly unexplained oral health challenges.
Dental and Mental Health Tips
So what can you do to take care of both your mental health and your teeth?
Here are a few tips.
- Take a break from the news.
- Take care of your body through meditation, exercise, and eating well-balanced meals. Remember to breathe.
- Take time for yourself to unwind and do what you want to do. Self-care is important.
- Stay connected with loved ones. Even if it’s virtually or from afar, make the time for others and share how you’re feeling. Trust your community.
- Go to the doctor. If you are feeling unwell or have a condition or concern, don’t put off going to see a physician, as waiting could cause more permanent damage or long-term effects.
Make your dental appointment today
The good news for dentists and patients alike is that according to the ADA survey, consumer confidence in returning to the dental office hit a new high, with 90% reporting to have already been back or are ready to go. The implications of putting off routine health care and dental cleanings can have long-term effects.
Looking for the best dentist near you in Miami? Look no further, Dr. Leseperance and his dedicated team at South Gables Dental are here for all your dental health needs.
- American Dental Association (ADA): https://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2021-archive/march/hpi-poll-dentists-see-increased-prevalence-of-stress-related-oral-health-conditions
- Colgate: https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/threats-to-dental-health/what-is-mask-mouth