Study reveals uptick in teeth grinding, facial pain amid pandemic

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The coronavirus pandemic has led to growing anxiety for many and a recent study from Tel Aviv University reveals Israel’s first lockdown brought on more symptoms of distress.

More cases of teeth grinding, jaw clenching, and facial pain were discovered among the Middle Eastern country’s population due to the stress from the coronavirus outbreak.

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“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 said in a Nov. 16 news release.

Published in the “Journal of Clinical Medicine” in October, the study reviewed the answers to a questionnaire submitted by 1,800 respondents in Israel and Poland. The survey evaluated the presence and possible worsening of bruxism, or teeth grinding and jaw clenching, among the general population during the initial lockdown due to COVID-19. This stemmed from the national emergency and the increase in feelings of anxiety.

The first lockdown showed a significant increase in daytime jaw clenching, nighttime teeth grinding and orofacial pain, which are typically caused by anxiety and stress. Before the pandemic, these symptoms were shown 35% of the time but increased to 47% during the pandemic. Jaw-clenching in the daytime had risen from around 17% to 32% while nighttime teeth-grinding grew from around 10% to 36%.

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Among people who had these symptoms before the coronavirus outbreak, there was a 15% increase in their severity.

In total, the symptoms rose 10%-25% and women suffered more from them compared to men. Additionally, 35- to 55-year-olds suffered the most.

Researchers also compared the results of respondents in Israel to those of people in Poland and discovered the likelihood of temporomandibular joint dysfunction and bruxism was higher among Poland’s respondents.

“The results showed that the Coronavirus pandemic has caused significant adverse effects on the psychoemotional status of both Israeli and Polish populations, resulting in the intensification of their bruxism and TMD symptoms,” researchers wrote.

“The aggravation of the psychoemotional status caused by the Coronavirus pandemic can result in bruxism and TMD symptoms intensification and thus lead to increased orofacial pain,” they said in the conclusion.

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