To an emergency dentist, it’s no surprise that there has been a significant increase in cracked teeth during the global coronavirus pandemic. With pandemics, an increase in stress is inevitable, and an increase in stress means an increase in the various factors that can contribute to a cracked tooth. Add to that the discomforts of working from home, and you have a recipe for a dental emergency.
Here are some tips on how to reduce your risk of getting a cracked tooth during the pandemic:
- Work on your sleep. Stress leads to dental emergencies because stress negatively affects the quality of your sleep. When you are restless or having issues sleeping, your nervous system puts your jaw into a clenched, fight-or-flight position. In addition, your TMJ muscles can become spasmic, which causes clenching and grinding. Over time, clenching and grinding can introduce cracks into the tooth structure, causing discomfort when chewing, and eventually causing the tooth to crack. Finding ways to decrease stress—during the day, at work, or before going to bed—will help your body to relax.
- Get a night guard. Even if you have a perfect sleep environment, the weight of the world can still affect your sleep and lead to teeth grinding, and you may not even realize it. To ensure your teeth are protected from inadvertent teeth grinding while you sleep, get a night guard or retainer. This physical barrier will absorb the shock from teeth grinding, and protect your teeth in the long term. To ensure a proper fit, a dentist can have one custom made for your teeth.
- Assess your work-from-home environment. Another factor in the increase in cracked teeth is the increase in the number of people working from home. Many of us don’t have an ergonomic desk and chair at home, the way we do at the office. In addition, the freedom of working from home means that we’re more likely to work on the couch, on a stool at the kitchen island, or even in bed—all of which result in improper posture that stresses the body. When your body starts to hurt because of bad posture, that in turn affects your ability to comfortably sleep, and in turn increases your risk of inadvertently grinding your teeth.
- Invest in a proper work-from-home setup. With the pandemic not disappearing anytime soon, it’s a smart idea to invest in a proper work from home setup that will keep your body in alignment all day—not only will this benefit your teeth, it’ll also help prevent repetitive strain injuries in your body. Laptops prevent our bodies from being in alignment. Invest in a good chair for your desk, and prop your laptop up on a stack of books so it sits directly in front of your face, rather than below you. An ergonomic keyboard and mouse will take it the extra mile.
The bottom line: to reduce your risk of getting a cracked tooth, you should ensure that your work-from-home setup is ergonomic, and you should also work on the quality of your sleep. Sleep tight, work right… and stay safe!
Chen D.D.S., T. (2020, September 11). A Dentist Sees More Cracked Teeth. What’s Going On? The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/08/well/live/dentists-tooth-teeth-cracks-fractures-coronavirus-stress-grinding.html
Wilser, J. (2020, September 11). The Pandemic of Work-From-Home Injuries. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/04/well/live/ergonomics-work-from-home-injuries.html