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'COVID clenching': Dentists report uptick in jaw pain, cracked teeth

A Gorham dentist said the clenching is due to stress and lack of sleep.

GORHAM, Maine — Dentists are seeing an uptick in cracked teeth and jaw issues since the pandemic started.

"Since the pandemic, we've had a huge increase in both jaw pain, jaw clicking, myofascial pain, cracked teeth, broken teeth," Dr. Andrea Taliento said.

Dr. Andrea Taliento said she has never seen anything like it.

"Patients with virgin teeth meaning no fillings, no crowns, nothing on them; splitting in half."

Deborah Johansen said she has had jaw pain on and off since July.

"Alongside the right side of my jaw," Johansen said.

Dr. Taliento said the uptick is due to stress and lack of sleep.

"People tend to clench their teeth more when they are stressed because it actually triggers and makes a happy feeling in the brain. If people aren't sleeping through the different stages of sleep they are supposed to, they aren't able to control their body's pain, and a lot of times it comes out in jaw pain," Dr. Johansen said.

But she said she is seeing a lot more daytime 'COVID clenching.'

"You can do a lot more force with your muscles during the daytime, and I think that's where it's happening the most."

What can you do to prevent problems?

"Stress management would be key. Making sure you get a good night's sleep. Making sure you are coming in and seeing your dentist regularly so we can maybe see the signs before it gets to the point where you are breaking and cracking your teeth," Dr. Taliento said.