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Dental care more important than ever post-COVID

Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 8:17 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Dentist offices are seeing an increase in patients returning to care with problems caused or made worse by the routine maintenance shutdowns during the height of COVID-19.

“Things that could have been fixed with smaller fillings, prophylactic treatments, things like that have gotten intensified, so larger fillings, larger cavities, things leading to root canals, crowns, etc.,” said dentist and partner at Wausau Smiles Dr. Andrew Welles.

Increased stress means a lot of people were causing more wear and tear on their teeth as well.

“Sixty-three percent of dentists across the nation have noticed increased issues with clenching, grinding, also known as bruxism, and temporomandibular joint disfunction or TMJ disfunction,” Welles said

That can mean cracked teeth, broken crowns or fillings and increased pain. Patient Katesha Biagas first went to Wausau Smiles to get some implants, which led to discovering the reason for her chronic headaches.

“When I was coming up just for follow-ups he was noticing that they were grinding down, and he was like, ‘no, that shouldn’t be,” Biagas said.

Dr. Welles says the first step is to identify the habits of clenching. Often people don’t realize they have an issue until they visit a dentist.

“I found at night time when I’m sleeping I’m grinding my teeth, so that’s where Wausau Smiles really came in to really save the day for me,” Biagas said.

Welles says in the average day, a person only spends about 30 minutes chewing during the entire day.

“If we’re sleeping six to ten hours a night and grinding that whole time, that’s weeks to months worth of chewing in one night and that can really have a negative outcome on your teeth,” he said.

But it’s not just dental issues good mouth hygiene will help you avoid. It can save you a trip to the doctor as well.

“There’s a strong connection that’s actually been scientifically studied between systemic conditions and oral conditions. Obviously the mouth is the gateway to the body, and bacteria can contribute to conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.”

Even things like joint or heart valve replacements require dental clearance before they can be done.

Welles says prevention is the best tool. Catching conditions early on saves patients both money and emotional turmoil.

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