The stress that 2020 has brought to the world has led to a variety of stress caused ailments, including recent news reports of dentists reporting a higher incidence of fractured teeth versus pre-COVID. One common manifestation of stress is bruxism, which can lead to TMJ disorders, pain and fractured teeth. Patients may be dealing with increased stress from the pandemic and quarantine, losing a job or anything else 2020 has thrown our way. For many, the body and brain manifests that stress with clenching and grinding of the teeth, often during sleep.
The Effects of Bruxism
Bruxism often manifests at night while asleep, although it can happen anytime during the day and can be caused by a variety of things. An imbalance in the bite, sleep apnea, stress and many factors can play into bruxism. Bruxism can become so prominent and painful within the muscles, such as the masseter and temporalis, the patient may suffer with life altering pain. Unable to chew some foods, headaches and pain and tenderness of the facial muscles can result. With COVID exposure posing a threat, many patients will elect to live with the pain until it becomes unbearable or teeth fracture. As a dental provider you can evaluate, provide treatment recommendations and monitor a patient with bruxism from the safety of their home with teledentistry.
Monitor and Treat with Teledentistry
Connecting through TeleDent, a HIPAA compliant and secure patient portal, providers can evaluate through video conferencing, still images and have those become part of the patient record. Through a teledentistry encounter with video conferring the dentist can instruct the patient on therapy exercises, identify pain points and if necessary, prescribe anti-inflammatory medication. A diagnosis and treatment plan can be created to safely get your patient out of discomfort and prevent future episodes if possible.
Screen and Schedule
In conversations with dentists, they are reporting the incidence of fractured teeth requiring either dental heroics or crowns to repair; in some cases the tooth has a hopeless prognosis and must be extracted. Using teledentistry for an oral evaluation to asses the fractured tooth, the office can treatment plan and schedule accordingly. There are no surprises in cost or expectations for the patient, and the practice can allow for adequate chair times as needed. In the instance where a patient needs to have an occlusal guard made to treat the bruxism habit and there is not restorative treatment needed, you won’t waste valuable chair time set aside for restorative. The patient can be scheduled with an assistant only for the impressions or scan to fabricate the guard.
Teledentistry serves many purposes in today’s world, it’s not just for outreach and public health clinics. Utilizing teledentistry within clinical practice saves chair time for production, allows you the ability to evaluate and provide care to patients who may not need to be seen in a tradition office setting, Patients are savvy and have experienced telehealth appointments with a medical doctor and finding the convenience and customized care, why not with your dental office?