How the full-scale war has affected Ukrainians’ dental health
War is a time of difficult trials for every Ukrainian, both at the front and in the rear. War affects every aspect of our lives - our thoughts, actions, emotions, and bodies.
Have you noticed yourself clenching your teeth? Or maybe you sometimes forget about everyday hygiene habits, because something comes up at an inconvenient time? Yarema Miklos, the head doctor of Yarema Dental, talks about how the full-scale war has affected Ukrainians’ dental health, how to avoid problems, and how to meet victory with a bright smile.
As early as May 5, our dental clinic, which was forced to stop working at the end of February due to our medical staff evacuating, resumed operations. Just a few days after we re-opened, it began resembling its usual self, but under the conditions of full-scale war. Almost immediately, we encountered the typical signs of wartime dental disorders.
First of all, we saw signs of night bruxism, which developed in our patients against the background of constant stress. This disorder is characterized by the strong grinding of teeth during sleep. Approximately 70% of people came to us with problems from bruxism, like chipped, dislocated, or cracked teeth. This is not surprising, because during wartime, the human psyche is under pressure from various unresolved problems, personal losses, and negative news. In such conditions, our nervous system tries to overcome stress using our mouths and the muscles therein. They set our jaws in motion, which leads to tooth grinding.
To assess the extent of the disorder, we palpate the muscles, assess the state of tooth alignment, examine the inner surfaces of the cheeks, and perform computer tomography of the teeth. Often, during these procedures, we find other problems that can cause similar pain in the jaw or in the ear, including disorders of the temporomandibular joint, various dental problems, and systemic diseases.
Quality sleep and the absence of stress are key factors in solving the problem of bruxism. However, drugs, in particular muscle relaxants, are not very effective. In extremely severe cases, botulinum toxin injections can be given. These help patients with severe bruxism for whom all other interventions have been ineffective. In other cases, the best solution is a muscle relaxant cap and for the patient to do exercises on their own to control their jaw muscles.
Another type of wartime patients were those who started treatment even before the full-scale war and who were forced to evacuate from Kyiv while having temporary prosthetics. Some of them went abroad and continued their treatment in European cities. After returning with experience from abroad, they rated the quality and service of Ukrainian dentistry in general and our clinic in particular quite highly. This has been very gratifying, because we conduct professional consultations, provide highly qualified services, treat our patients’ problems, and help them fulfill their long-standing dreams of a perfect smile. But we understand that for full-fledged further development of the industry, Ukraine must win and become a prosperous country.
By opening branches in Lviv and Warsaw, we were able to finish the treatment of patients who had begun procedures before February 24. We are currently renting part of a clinic in Warsaw, where we conduct only orthodontic appointments.
And finally, the third notable category of clients are those who have been visiting us since the relaunch of the clinic in May. These are people who, against the background of war and stress, have lost their orientation in time and space. They have stopped doing everyday things, such as brushing their teeth regularly. These patients have had interdental deposits accumulating and causing various degrees of gum inflammation. In such cases, it is not enough to simply be a doctor. We have played the role of coach and psychologist, charging people with optimism and faith in Ukrainian victory and their personal success.
However, services such as cosmetic dentistry have not been in demand during the war. It is clear that we will be good after the victory, but now we need to be strong and healthy. And for this, it is necessary to observe elementary rules of oral hygiene. First of all, brush your teeth regularly, at least twice a day. To enhance the effect, you can use paste with fluoride. It is also worth flossing, rinsing, and, for example, using an interproximal brush - a special brush that cleans the interdental spaces. At least once every six months, it is necessary to have a professional cleaning and oral exam by a dentist. If this is not done, the accumulation of tartar will increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
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