ATLANTA (CNN) – If you’re feeling stress over the pandemic, it’s likely your mouth is, too.
As patients return to the dental chair after long delays, many dentists are seeing new problems.
“There’s a lot of close links to dental problems for people who take anti-depressants. It has a lot of negative effects on your mouth,” said Dr. Travis Watson, a dentist with Atlanta West Dentistry. “It actually decreases saliva flow, so we see lots of opportunist cavities in patients who are on anti-depressants.”
But stress also shows up in other ways.
“We’re also seeing an increasing amount of patients who presented with headaches and jaw aches that are directly related to grinding or clenching of the teeth, which we know has a strong correlation with emotional stress,” Watson said.
If you’re concerned about going back to your dentist, ask a few questions about office safeguards, including disinfection protocols and personal protection equipment.
According to Watson, oral health plays a big role in a person’s overall health and shouldn’t be ignored.
“The evidence shows that gum disease has a direct correlation with heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and many other medical problems,” he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people at higher risk for many chronic diseases are also at higher risk for developing oral diseases.
Common risk factors include stress, poor diet, alcohol and tobacco use, substance abuse and poverty.
Many of these factors have been heightened during the pandemic.