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COVID-19 and Teeth Clenching

The COVID-19 pandemic has our regular routines askew - we're going to bed a little later, indulging in foods and drinks more frequently, and likely clenching our teeth a little more. While some of these things can be easily reversed by returning to routines and the gym, there's one that we listed that can cause irreversible damage if left untreated.

If you guessed tooth clenching, you're absolutely right.

"Tooth clenching puts extreme stress on the teeth and the jaw," said Dr. David Buck, a Seattle epigenetic orthodontics.

This stress, over time, can cause wear and tear and displacement of the discs of the temporomandibular joints, or TMJs. These joints connect the lower jaw to the skull and are located in front of the ears on both sides of the head. When this happens, a painful condition known as temporomandibular joint dysfunction can develop.

"When the temporomandibular joints break down, the result is often pain and loss of jaw function," Buck said.

In addition to pain, many people living with TMJ dysfunction experience swelling in the jaw or the muscles around the jaw; jaw stiffness; unexplained ear pain; migraines; head, neck and shoulder pain; and crepitus, the medical term for creaking, popping and snapping of the jaw joint when in use.

"If your jaw is popping or creaking when you eat, speak or yawn, this is an indicator that your jaw joint is in trouble," Buck said.

If you're stressed out, you're more likely to clench and grind your teeth, even if you're not aware that you're doing it.

"Most individuals who clench do not even know they're doing so, because it happens in their sleep," Buck said.

Signs of clenching include a headache in the morning, particularly around the temples, as well as a sore jaw and sudden tooth sensitivity.

With the stress of daily life exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and an overall increase feelings of anxiety and depression, working to stay stress-free is critical.

"Take walks, try meditating and listen to relaxing music," Buck said.

These tips will serve you during COVID-19 and the rest of the year, he said.

"Learning how to cope with stress is good for your jaw and your overall health," Buck said.

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 10 million Americans are affected by TMJD.

Source: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. TMJ Disorders. September 2017.

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Epigenetic Orthodontics can open and protect the airway enhancing breathing both during sleep and awake activities.

Dr. Buck practices a philosophy that integrates airway into all diagnosis and treatments. Dentistry has traditionally not considered the airway when planning dental treatments. Fortunately, today there is a rapidly growing movement that now recognizes how dentistry can have an impact on the airway which affects breathing during sleep. If dental treatments, including TMJ, orthopedic and orthodontics are well planned the result can be that the airway is protected or even enhanced. There is a clear link between underdeveloped and retruded jaws together with narrow dental arches that puts a patient at risk for sleep breathing disorders.

Please visit this site for more information; Airway Health

WOW! A 54% decrease in forward head posture; 164% increase in the antero-posterior size of the airway; 176% increase in the lateral size of the airway all from epigenetically centered jaw development orthopedics. This is the future of orthodontics!​