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Survey: More Than 70% Of Dentists Seeing Increase In Patients Experiencing Teeth Grinding, Jaw Clenching During Pandemic

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Doctors say COVID-19 can damage the lungs, heart, blood vessels and almost any organ in the body, but now, unexpected damage is showing up in our teeth.

Millions of people infected, many hospitalized in the ICU, half a million dead, lockdowns imposed, stores and restaurants closed, millions unemployed -- no wonder we're all stressed out.

"Very stressful, extremely stressful. You know, every aspect of your life is, is changed. Every aspect of your life is halted," dental patient Karen Suss said.

While stress can show itself in many ways, one of the most common is in grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw, often, as in Suss' case, without even realizing it. Her dentist, Dr. James Objanich, says it's become an epidemic all by itself.

"I am seeing small chips in teeth. I am seeing fractures in the cusp or the supporting teeth where we need crowns. I am seeing teeth cracked through the middle of it, where they need to be extracted," he said.


As CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez reports, Objanich is not alone. A recent survey by the American Dental Association of 2,300 dentists found more than 70% of them are seeing an increase of patients experiencing teeth grinding and clenching.

That's what may have led to Suss' cracked tooth.

Objanich often makes custom night guards for patients to protect their teeth while sleeping, but patients are wearing them out in weeks rather than years.

It's not just teeth that are suffering.

"Terrible temporomandibular joint problems. Difficulty in opening the mouth at this point. Pain in front of my ear," Objanich said.

The best advice for now is to not avoid your dentist. They are all following COVID-safe practices and can identify problems before you break and lose teeth.

Also try to reduce your stress, which is easier said than done.

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