We, like so many other dentists, are so happy to be back in our office, seeing smiling eyes and mouths. Along with the air-hugs and elbow bumps from missed patients, we've seen an increase in complaints about jaw pain, tooth sensitivity, achiness in the cheeks, and migraines. We have spoken to many other colleagues who are experiencing the same increase with their patients. We think that we know why. First off, an unprecedented number of Americans are suddenly working remotely from home. For some, the new work flexibility is excellent; for the rest of us, who are left working wherever we can cobble together a makeshift work area while trying to home school children and tackle household chores, it is challenging. Our often less than ideal working conditions are leaving our bodies sore from sitting and or laying awkward positions while trying to get our work done. Why does a dentist care about my posture, you ask? The simple truth is that poor posture during the day can translate into grinding problems at night and during the day.
Poor posture from our new offices, coupled with the increased stress most of us are feeling during the pandemic, can result in less restorative sleep. Our bodies are in overdrive, putting many of us at odds with our dominant sympathetic nervous system, which drives our body's "fight or flight" response. Think of an athlete preparing to enter the arena: balled fists, heart pumping, jaw clenched. The never-ending stress of coronavirus, which is now coupled with anxiety from the devastating wildfires, has kept our bodies in a battle-ready state of arousal, which is not conducive to resting and recharging. All that tension that builds up from sitting funny and lack of rest goes straight to our teeth. So what can I do? First off, listen to your body. Symptoms such as migraines, tooth sensitivity, and jaw pain are your body's way of getting your attention. Start by staying active, use your body's endorphins from physical activity to treat your symptoms. Let's face it; we probably have quite a while before we go back to a regular office, so secondarily try and improve on the work arrangement that you do have. Ideally, when you sit to work, your shoulders should be over your hips, and your ears should be over your shoulders. Computer screens should be at eye level; prop up your monitor or laptop on a box or a stack of books if you don't have an adjustable chair or desk. Remember, if you have children, try to get their work area in the same way they can hurt their teeth and backs too.
That night guard that has been sitting in the back of your bathroom drawer collecting god-knows-what should be pulled out and actually worn. If you are having the symptoms that we mentioned, don't just wear your guard at night; pop it in while you are sitting at your newly updated work-space too. If you don't have or want a custom one, mask up and go to your local drugstore and pick up an over the counter one or order from an online merchant. OTC nightguards are bulkier and generally don't last as long as dentists' do, but they will offer you relief. For tooth pain that won't go away, call us so that we can take a look. We have seen more instances of cracked teeth due to clenching and grinding since the pandemic started than ever before. We have written a number of blog posts on wearing guards because it is so important. Our teeth are naturally brittle, with tiny fissures from chewing, grinding, and everyday use. Enamel is the hardest surface in our bodies, but it can take only so much trauma before it eventually breaks. It's like a tiny rock hole in your windshield that, over time, can become bigger and bigger until it becomes a gaping hole. Wearing a guard and addressing discomfort early, can help prevent little cracks from turning into catastrophic ones that can require a root canal, a crown, or other major dental treatment.
San Francisco Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Edward L. Loev, DMD, has been caring for his patients for decades from his dental office that overlooks San Francisco's Union Square. He and his team take pride in providing the best quality and most gentle dental care available. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area and are in need or want of a new dentist, Dr. Loev and his team would love the opportunity to meet you and earn your trust and loyalty; call them at 415-392-2072 or schedule an appointment online today.