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As Masks Come Off, People Try to Get Their Teeth Straight

Orthodontists, companies report jump in business
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2021 7:40 PM CDT
As Return Nears, People Rush to Improve Smiles
Pedestrians walk along Boston's Newbury Street on Sunday, some with and some without masks.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

(Newser) – It might be too late to learn a new language before returning to the workplace, but many people are hurrying to have their teeth straightened after months of staring at themselves on Zoom calls. One New York orthodontist said new inquiries have risen 50% since fall. And the owner of Invisalign clear aligners said the number of people starting treatment in the first quarter was up 69% from a year before, the Wall Street Journal reports. "Typically, what motivates adults is a special event," said an executive at a competitor. The special event in this case is the end of the pandemic lockdown. "People have been holed up," he said. "They're starting to have reveals or reunions with co-workers or family members." The CDC decided anyone who's been vaccinated doesn't usually need to wear a mask outdoors, but in this context, masks serve another purpose: hiding a mouthful of braces.

There's been more grinding of teeth—often affected by stress—during the pandemic, per US News & World Report. An American Dental Association survey found that of 70% of dentists reported an increase in the number of patients who've been grinding and clenching their teeth, a 10% jump since fall. That can lead to straightening efforts, as well. One patient went ahead with aligners when her dentist told her she'd need to wear a retainer or night guard to protect from the grinding. Patients say the nuisance of the treatments is easier to deal with when stuck at home anyway. "I have the time to do it, I'm at home, I'm not seeing people," said a man in Los Angeles. Some people have themselves on a tight schedule. A woman in Michigan started her treatment last summer. "I'll be done two days before my bachelorette party," she said. (Read more teeth stories.)

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