It was bad luck, I figured, or maybe just the reality of middle age. My dentist, Jennifer Herbert, suggested otherwise. Ever since the pandemic started, she says she has seen a surge in problems related to tooth-grinding and jaw-clenching. Perhaps, she suggested, pandemic stress was the culprit for my tooth woes, too. “It’s astronomical,” she says. “I’ve seen more patients with problems from grinding in the last few months than I have in the rest of my career.”
This is no joke. Six years ago, when my cancer diagnosis was brand new and I was undergoing my first round of chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transfer, Marian was beside herself with anxiety.¹ She didn’t know it at the time, but it turned out that as a result she was grinding her teeth at night. By the time it was all over a year later, she had undergone months of dental work and had five new crowns.
This is also an easily solved problem: your dentist can provide you with a custom-fitted mouthguard that you wear at night. If the COVID-19 pandemic and everything else going on has you worried enough to be grinding your teeth at night, get it looked at right away. There’s no need to wait until your teeth are half gone.
¹And me? I’m just not the worrying type, I guess. I snore, but I don’t grind my teeth.