Dentists see increased teeth grinding and clenching, TMJ issues during pandemic


PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — During the COVID-19 pandemic, stress has been at an all-time high for many, and it’s landing residents in the dentist’s chair.

Local dentists have said that they’re seeing a concerning trend among their patients.

“We see a lot of patients that are coming in with broken teeth, chipped teeth,” said Dr. Jolene Paramore, a periodontist at Forest Park Dental in Panama City. “Definitely there’s an increase in the number of patients that we see having clenching and grinding side-effects that are causing major problems for them.”

Dr. Paramore said it’s happening nationwide, recorded through an American Dental Association study.

“About 59 percent of the dentists did notice increasing patients having broken teeth, symptoms of clenching and grinding,” she said.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to build stress and anxiety on residents, their teeth are taking a hit, grinding and clenching them often during the day and at night. Dr. Paramore said it’s leading to worn-down teeth, tension headaches, TMJ soreness and other painful symptoms. This can lead to expensive tooth extractions, crowns, and corrective surgeries down the road.

However, she said it’s fixable, mostly by simply being aware of it happening and correcting the habit as it happens.

“Your teeth are not supposed to touch as long as you are awake unless you’re eating or your swallowing,” she said. “If you’re just driving down the road or paying your bills or thinking about something and your teeth are touching then that’s clenching and that’s a chronic stress on your teeth.”

For nighttime grinding during sleep, it’s not as easy to catch; Dr. Paramore recommends a night-guard or your partner alerting you to the behavior in order to correct it. Awareness of clenching and grinding teeth can save patients from pain, trips to the dentist and possible future surgery. 

“That short-term effect is fixing the teeth,” she said. “But the long-term effect is really helping our citizens understand the effects of clenching and grinding and how that can really not only cost them trips to the dentist, but can also relieve a lot of their pain and their symptoms from headaches.”

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