BRUXISM: Influence of Stress Caused by COVID-19 - Patricia Chacon

Bruxism is the involuntary habit of clenching or grinding dental structures without functional purposes. Bruxism affects between 10% and 20% of the population; and can lead to headache and pain in the muscles, jaw, neck and ear.

They also pose, in many cases, problems of a certain severity in the function of chewing and swallowing food.

Apart from the fact that, sometimes, bruxism can be related to malocclusion, that is, to the bad gear between the jaw and the maxilla, some of the main causes for which this pathology develops are closely related to stress, fatigue or anxiety. 

In this sense, given the situation we are experiencing, in which home confinement by COVID-19 can cause, in some people, anxiety disorders, disorders related to bruxism and Temporo Mandibular Joint (TMJ) may be aggravated during these weeks.

It is an involuntary habit, it makes people clench their jaws tightly or grind their teeth, rubbing or sliding them, mechanically and it can have consequences that even affect quality of life. 

The clenching of the teeth at a given moment is not of great importance, but if it occurs in a prolonged and uncontrolled way, even while we sleep, we are facing a problem that can end up causing pain in the area of the jaw or neck (vertebrae), until insomnia episodes that do not allow enough rest. 

This pathology, which can occur at any age, occurs when there is a dysfunction in the Temporo Mandibular Joint (TMJ).

TMJ influences dental occlusion, making it possible for us to perform functions as simple as talking or chewing. Stress, tension, together with a bad occlusion or what we would call "bad biting", are the factors that can trigger bruxism. 

This repetitive and unconscious clenching of the teeth causes the logical wear of the dental pieces and can even cause small injuries to the mouth. In addition, experts point out that sometimes headaches or migraines can be related to this abnormality.

Increase of cases during quarantine In the last month, my observation as director for 25 years at the Dental Clinic coincides with the comments of the world dental community; in the dental emergencies attended, an exaggerated number of new patients have been observed who now present signs and symptoms derived from clenching the teeth, which were previously asymptomatic. 

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