Dentists seeing more cracked and fractured teeth during pandemic and now ‘mask mouth’

Dental patients urged to not postpone treatment

Tarwinder Rai - 6 April 2021

Dental issues such as broken and fractured teeth are on the rise as COVID-19 pandemic stress continues to affect our lives. 

Dentists at the University of Alberta’s School of Dentistry Oral Health Clinic are warning patients that postponing treatment will only escalate the problem.

“It’s a very stressful time, and we are grinding and clenching our teeth in our sleep from anxiety,” said periodontist Liran Levin. “It’s important to emphasize that oral disease, like other ailments, doesn’t stop progressing through a pandemic. We will see higher rates of oral disease, and patients need to remember that postponement will affect your overall health.”

While the fear of COVID infection has changed every aspect of our lives, including patients’ comfort level with seeking dental care, we can feel safe visiting the dentist,  said Levin.

“Dental offices are one of the safest areas to be in during COVID,” said Levin. “Infection prevention control is in our DNA. Current COVID infection control and restrictions only enhanced the already strict protocols we have in place. It is very safe to come to the dental office.” 

Untreated dental problems are only being exacerbated by what Levin terms “mask mouth.” 

“Some people tend to breathe through their mouth when wearing a mask, and this dries out the oral cavity,” said Levin, adding when less saliva is available around the mouth and teeth, oral disease takes hold. “This leads to more cavities, inflammation and gum disease.”

The first step to tackle this issue, said Levin, is to recognize the habit and focus  on breathing through your nose.

“If you are working from home and only wearing a mask when you are going grocery shopping, nothing is going to happen,” he said. “But if you aren’t working from home, this can really cause some issues.”

Levin suggested keeping a water bottle nearby—never a carbonated or sugary drink—and hydrating often. 

“Dental problems don’t go to sleep during COVID. We still need to take care of our bodies.”