LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — COVID clenching is a term that was coined a few years ago. It’s clenching or grinding your teeth because of stress and it can be damaging to a person’s teeth.

Dentists report seeing more patients with damaged teeth because of clenching.

“We have a ligament on every single tooth and when there’s undue pressure on there it can actually cause the gum to recede, it can have the teeth become loosened,” said Docter Nicole Mackie, a dental surgery doctor at the Dental Implant Specialty Center. “The way that we’re supposed to chew, our teeth have protective mechanisms.”

Over time, she adds, clenching can cause people to chew differently which could lead to more issues.

She does have some advice if you are a teeth clencher. She advises people to try and decrease stress and to stay away from drugs and alcohol which can make a person grind their teeth more.

Fitted nightguards are also an option. Those will protect your teeth while sleeping or during high periods of stress when awake.

Doctor Mackie also recommends a neuromodulator like Botox or Dysport.

“There’s different muscles of mastication that make our open and close. So, hitting the targeted muscles that do the most will help soften basically that grinding or blow that happens when the jaw comes together.”

It’s suggested you check with your insurance to see what’s covered.

Although over-the-counter night guards are sold, Mackie recommends one made by your dentist because it will have a harder surface and do a better job of protecting your teeth.