Gum, anyone? More and more people are grinding their teeth over COVID worries

TEL AVIV, Israel — It feels like the entire world has been stressed out this year, so perhaps the results of a new study by Tel Aviv University shouldn’t be all that surprising. Researchers say that all the stress and anxiety felt by the Israeli population during the nation’s first lockdown led to a big increase in both orofacial and jaw pain. Their study finds patients are also suffering from jaw-clenching during the day and teeth-grinding at night.

The Israeli team says women are reporting these complaints in larger numbers than men. Similarly, 35 to 55-year-olds are dealing with the most severe symptoms in comparison to other age groups.

“We believe that our findings reflect the distress felt by the middle generation, who were cooped up at home with young children, without the usual help from grandparents, while also worrying about their elderly parents, facing financial problems and often required to work from home under trying conditions,” researchers say in a university release.

Along with the Israeli researchers, the project also involved Polish scientists from the University of Wroclaw. In all, 1,800 people living in either Israel or Poland took part in this research. Each person received a survey that asked about orofacial pain, teeth-grinding, and jaw-clenching both before and during the first COVID-19 lockdown.

COVID teeth-grinding is causing a dental disaster

Participants reported a significant uptick in overall dental pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth-grinding during the initial coronavirus shutdown. The team linked all three of those symptoms to overwhelming feelings of stress and anxiety.

While 35 percent report experiencing these symptoms before the pandemic, that number rose to 47 percent as the virus spread. Jaw-clenching during the day jumped up from 17 percent of the population before to 32 percent during lockdown. Teeth-grinding rates increased from 10 percent to 36 percent.

Furthermore, participants who had already dealt with these issues before COVID-19 say they’ve felt a 15-percent rise in symptom severity. An overall increase of 10 to 25 percent in symptom occurrence is reported by the study authors.

The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.