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Pandemic stress could be leading to cracked teeth

A Huntsville dentist says she's seeing more people come in with cracked teeth and thinks COVID-19 could be to blame.

The pandemic could be damaging your pearly whites.

A Huntsville dentist says she's seeing more people come in with cracked teeth and thinks COVID-19 could be to blame.

Working from home, financial hardships, and worrying about getting sick is causing a lot of people stress and anxiety. Dr. Elizabeth Duling says many of her patients are coming in right now complaining about teeth and jaw pain.

A lot of the time, excessive teeth grinding and jaw clenching is stress related, but that's not always the case.

RELATED: Is it safe to visit the dentist during the pandemic?

Being home more often means snacking more for many people, causing them to put on a few pounds. Duling says weight gain can contribute to teeth grinding.

"Any time you put on some weight, you can run into more problems with sleep at night and that kind of thing," said Duling.

More people are working from home than ever, making it much easier to slouch throughout the day, but bad posture can actually translate to jaw pain.

"All of your neck muscles are kind of related to the jaw muscles," said Duling. "If you're hunched over at your desk or sitting on the couch all day looking at your tablet or your computer, it tends to have a bigger impact on how you're holding your whole neck and then clenching of your jaw and that kind of thing."

RELATED: Don't fear the dentist: why skipping appointments during the pandemic could case bigger problems later

If you are clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth, there are some things you can do to help. If you grind your teeth during the day, you can try and break the habit.

"One thing I like to tell patients that's super easy is to put just a couple of different sticky notes around your work areas, and every time you see the sticky note you try to notice what your teeth are doing, and if they are touching, they really shouldn't be touching," said Duling.

You can also protect your teeth from grinding by wearing a night guard. Duling says to be careful when buying one, because they can make the problem worse. She recommends getting one from your dentist rather than the store.

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