Like many of you, we are left wondering when we will be able to reopen our practice to see our patients for continuing and ongoing care. We hope that it will be soon, and we are busy preparing for re-opening by modifying the office to account for the chages. Future appointments will look somewhat different than what you are used to. We might be wearing N95 Respirator masks, face shields, full gowns or scrubs, head coverings and foot coverings. Rest assured that you will get the highest level of care as well as the highest levels of infection control.
As a Dentist, professionally speaking, I have been using my time taking continuing education courses. I have also been actively triaging emergencies from home. Personally, I have never had so much free time at home. My grandfather always told me that ‘the purpose of life is a life of purpose’. This down time has given me the opportunity to experience personal growth and family bonding. I have rediscovered my love of the arts and music.
I wanted to address life stress during this pandemic. I have fielded a lot of emergency issues that were the result of clenching and grinding. Clenching and grinding is one way that our bodies respond during times of stress. This usually involves the squeezing of our teeth and corresponding jaw muscles or the grinding of our teeth while we are sleeping. This can cause headaches, tooth pain, jaw pain, neck pain, and feelings of changes in how our teeth come together. One way that we can assess for clenching and grinding is by asking the patient to open widely in the morning, and if their jaw muscles feel tight that is a strong indication that they have been using their jaw muscles through the night.
How can we deal with clenching and grinding during the pandemic? We must first understand that this pandemic event is unprecedented in our lifetimes. It is perfectly normal to feel uneasy about things. Clenching and grinding is often the result of how we manage life stress. Since we cannot easily make the stress of the pandemic go away, it is helpful to try to manage stress. I have been suggesting to patients to follow a routine as much as possible in their daily lives, and to set daily tasks to accomplish. Personally I have found that following a routine has been very helpful in dealing with anxiety. It is important to get enough sleep, eat healthy, and get enough daily exercise. It is important to also set aside time for rest/relaxation.
The best way to deal with the pain/discomfort related to clenching and grinding is as follows:
In the meantime, stay safe, brush and floss, and try to de-stress.
- Dr. Jordan Klimitz