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Dr Tammy Chen is a dentist in Manhattan. Because of the pandemic, she closed her practice to everything but emergencies and now that she's open regularly again, she says she's seeing something she didn't expect. A lot more cracked teeth.

In the New York Times she wrote...

“I’ve seen more tooth fractures in the last six weeks than in the previous six years..." ..."the fractures started coming in: at least one a day, every single day that I’ve been in the office. On average, I’m seeing three to four; the bad days are six-plus fractures."

I wondered if this is happening in Rochester, Minnesota, so I reached out to a bunch of dentists to find out. One, Dr JE Reinville from Downtown Dental Care of Rochester, said,

I really haven’t seen what I would call a substantial increase in our patients experiencing cracked teeth. While it is a fact that grinding of the teeth (during sleep or while awake) CAN lead to cracked teeth AND grinding (aka bruxism) can be associated with increased levels of environmental stress (ie, COVID-mania), the generalization that there is an increased incidence of cracked teeth during this period of history is yet to be told because we are really still in the early stages of the marathon (possibly too early yet to collect such data).

A very different story from Dr Stephen Sylwestrak at Blue Sky Dental Clinic.

I'm not familiar with the NYT article, but your question got us curious so we took a look.

In the year before the shutdown, 7.8% of problems we saw in our patients were because of cracked or broken teeth. Since the shutdown, cracked or broken teeth jumped to 12.2% of the problems. This 50% increase is a statistically significant difference, with a confidence level of 99%.

dental instruments
Tetiana Ryshchenko

Dr JE Reinville makes a good point about waiting 'til the pandemic is over (or subsides, etc) to draw any conclusions. But for now, some dentists are reporting an uptick, in some cases, like in Dr Sylwestrak's practice, the increase is surprisingly large uptick.

So what to do about the health of your teeth? Talk to your dentist's office. Especially if you've missed your usual six-month checkup. And, as the NYT article says, until then, get a night guard.

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