'People are stressed out to death:' Dentists seeing spike in cracked or fractured teeth blame pandemic

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Some dentists are experiencing a 25 percent rise of bite-related cases and some said they believe the pandemic could be to blame.

Patients have been streaming into Dr. Justin Russo's Raleigh office at a steady pace complaining of toothaches. Some people come in with damage close to being beyond repair.

"This person almost lost their tooth," Russo said while looking at some recent X-rays. "We helped this patient avoid root canals."

The crush of cases comes as his staff is still acclimating to working in a COVID-19 world.

People have anxiety either because of finances, health concerns, or pressure from homeschooling, and that could be contributing to the rise of dental cases.

"It seems to be progressing and getting worse. People are just stressed out to death," Russo said.

He brought in a new endodontist aboard the team to help with the sheer volume of emergencies.

Russo says there are ways to prevent a last-minute appointment.

If you wake up in the morning feeling tension in your jaw, which means you've been grinding your teeth, opt for a nightguard. It's the lowest cost, less-invasive option.

Russo said it is better to get fitted for one rather than buying a generic nightguard in a store.

"At a baseline level, 90 percent of people will clench and grid somewhat during REM sleep, but now with the added stress, people are clinching even more and fracturing teeth is one way that we're seeing that," Russo said.

Russo also suggested if you have a lot of fillings or crowns in your mouth, you might want to get those checked out to avoid decay or infection.
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