Lynnwood dentist says stress of COVID is grinding on patients, but routine care remains vital

Stress from the coronavirus pandemic has people gnashing their teeth and avoiding dental care.

LYNNWOOD, Wash. — The dentist’s office was a scary place for many people long before the coronavirus pandemic. For some, it’s even scarier now. 

People are avoiding dentists because they worry it isn’t safe — and that’s creating another set of health issues. 

The ongoing global pandemic is quite literally grinding people down to their breaking point.

“This patient said she started to notice herself clenching and grinding,” said Dr. Bradley Jonnes of Lynnwood’s Cedar View Dental, pointing to an X-ray. “She actually broke the tooth off at the gum line.”

Jonnes said, prior to the pandemic, he’d see a broken tooth every couple of weeks. Now he sees several a week.

“People come in and I ask them what changed, and they say, ‘Look at the world! It’s stress. I’m definitely clenching and grinding now.'”

Fear of contracting COVID-19 also has people putting off check-ups, turning small problems into big ones. Routine cavities can become root canals.

After dental offices across the country were completely shut down at the beginning of the pandemic, the American Dental Association changed its policy, designating check-ups as “essential” services.

When asked whether a check-up truly is “essential,” Jonnes responded, “That’s an interesting question. Sometimes we do a check-up and we find a lot more, so we can prevent a lot more. In some cases, it saves people time and money and pain and hassle by doing that check-up. We screen for oral cancer and other issues. We never know what we’re going to find until we get in there.”

Washington state is now allowing dentists to operate as they did prior to the pandemic with additional requirements, including screening of patients for symptoms and thorough cleaning of facilities.

Though not required, Jonnes uses a hand-held fogger to coat his office with a natural disinfectant every day.

He wears both an N95 and additional surgical mask during each procedure. A hospital grade air purification system filters the air in the office every 15 minutes.

“The good thing is, we now have a track record,” said Jonnes. “When we were first opening, we didn’t know how COVID and dentistry would be affected. Talking with my colleagues, the American Dental Association and the national association, we can see dental offices have been safe.”

The American Dental Association reports less than 1% of the nation’s 200,000 dentists have tested positive for coronavirus, compared to more than 200,000 health care workers who have been infected.

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Hartford Hospital doctor kickstarts book club with colleagues to alleviate pandemic stress

(WTNH) — The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t come with a set of instructions. As the hospitals began to fill, it was all hands on deck. Hartford Hospital Doctor Michael Hallisey joined his colleagues on the front lines.

What jumped out at him was the toll it was taking on them; dealing with a deadly virus that quite frankly, we didn’t know too much about.

“These are people who are facing the stress of COVID and taking care of patients. They like the distraction of talking about something that’s intriguing and thrilling like a book,” Dr. Hallisey said.

So he started a book club and bought his colleagues a series of books by bestselling author Michael Connelly. When Connelly first found out, he did not understand how his books could help. Then he spoke with Dr. Hallisey, and began to understand.

“The idea that you need a break, you need a relief, that came through. And so it’s very fulfilling to me to be in a position where maybe I can provide a little bit of that with my stories,” Connelly said.

Connelly pens detective novels and other crime fiction. His latest book just released this week is titled The Law of Innocence. It’s dedicated to Dr. Hallisey and his Hartford Hospital Book Club.

“Everyone was just like wow. This is, you know, this is real,” Hallisey said.

Connelly’s main character is Harry Bosch. In the web television series, Bosch, a police detective, is played by New Haven native Titus Welliver. Bosch’s code is, “Everybody counts, or nobody counts.”

Connelly sent Dr. Hallisey t-shirts with that slogan. Hallisey handed out the shirts and books to his colleagues. “In my mind, it’s thousands and thousands of people, but at the forefront is Dr. Hallisey-kinds leading by his example,” Connelly said.

“I told them there is medical literature that shows that crime fiction is very helpful. I call it medicine for the mind.”

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How To Cope With 2020 Election Stress

The 2020 election season has already been unlike any other, so if you’re feeling especially anxious about what the results might be, just know you’re not alone.

“Things are extremely stressful, due to the sheer fact that the election is mounting on top of all of the other factors we’re dealing with, like the [COVID-19] pandemic and social unrest,” says Thea Gallagher, PsyD, an assistant professor at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “It feels like there’s a lot of pressure around the election and, if the results aren’t what you hope, it can feel like the world is ending.”

That can create an all-or-nothing atmosphere, which might make you spiral into worst-case-scenario mode at a moment’s notice.

There’s an undercurrent of fear, too. “In general, we become stressed when we believe that something we care about, or have a stake in, is threatened or being harmed,” says Craig Smith, PhD, associate professor of psychology and human development at Vanderbilt University. “Election Day can be highly stressful for people who care deeply about the outcome.”

Those feelings can be particularly heavy for people in marginalized communities. “Many are hoping for meaningful change going forward and, if you don’t believe that’s going to happen, that can feel stressful,” Gallagher says.

With all these different concerns factoring into your stress, it can be hard to think about anything but the election right now. And, while it’s okay to have it on the brain, there are a few things you can do to limit how frazzled you feel about everything:

1. Acknowledge that this could take a while.

“One of the things I’m warning people against is white-knuckling it until November 4, because there’s a chance this won’t be resolved in a day,” Gallagher says. Recognizing that and setting realistic expectations for how long there will be uncertainty around the election is important, she says.

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2. Recognize what you can (and can’t) control.

Aside from doing your part at the polls or volunteering for the causes you believe in, you can’t make the entire country lean the way you want them to. (Lame, huh?) Gallagher recommends practicing mindfulness to try to just focus on being in the moment. Apps like Stop, Breathe & Think offer free guided meditations to help you stay centered.

3. Be aware of how much news you’re consuming.

Yeah, you want to stay informed and, clearly, you should. But constantly reading posts and stories about the election can leave you feeling more stressed out than before, Gallagher says.

4. Set “breathers” during your day.

Schedule time throughout each day to take whatever necessary steps you need to put the election out of your mind, even just for a little bit, Smith says. During that blocked-off time, focus on things you love, even if

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Family caregivers struggle with added mental stress of COVID-19


This story was published in partnership with The 19th, a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom reporting on gender, politics and policy.

When COVID-19 emerged, Jyl Choate’s family entered into strict lockdown. They had no choice: Choate, 51, doesn’t have just herself to think of. Beyond caring for her husband and two children, she is responsible for her 87-year-old mother. 

“Nobody wants to kill grandma,” said Choate, who lives just outside of Atlanta in Marietta, Georgia. “If any of us get the virus, she will probably get it.”

Choate’s whole life revolves around her mother: 14 hours a day, seven days a week, she makes sure her mom eats, exercises, takes her medications and goes to doctors’ appointments. Even before COVID-19, she stopped working to stay on top of her mother’s needs. Now, the pandemic has strained her family’s finances. Choate is more stressed than ever, sleeping maybe four or five hours a night.

Family caregivers says the coronavirus pandemic complicates their already difficult task. (Photo: Getty Images)

If not for the health crisis, Choate might have hired someone to help care, even just for a few hours every now and then, to alleviate some of the burden. Now the risk of exposure is too great to allow anyone else into the home. Already, her mother has a host of medical conditions, including heart disease, COPD, osteoarthritis and macular degeneration. 

COVID-19 could be a death sentence. If her mother falls — which happens often — Choate has tried to take care of her at home, doing all she can to keep her from going to the hospital. She recently had to break that rule, taking her mother in for emergency care. But because of the pandemic, she isn’t allowed in to visit her mom and provide the assistance she normally would have.

Those worries have political ramifications for Choate, who wrote in a vote for Jeb Bush in 2016. She is a lifelong Republican in a state looking increasingly competitive for 2020. But she can’t vote for Donald Trump, she said — especially after the president, who recently contracted the coronavirus, told voters “don’t be afraid” of COVID-19.

“We’ve got friends who died, but ‘It’s OK, don’t be scared.’ I’m supposed to tell my 87-year-old mother don’t be scared?” she said. “Don’t turn around and tell me I have nothing to be scared of when I have been locked down with my entire family since March.”

She watched the vice presidential debate between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence with rapt attention. Hanging in the balance, she said, was the decision whether to break with her party and vote for Joe Biden, or to just stay home.

Almost 42 million Americans, or 16 percent of all adults, serve as caregivers for relatives 50 or over. The majority of the people doing this unpaid, labor-intensive work are women, and, on average, they are just shy of 50 themselves, according to data compiled by the AARP. Many have jobs outside the home, or are also

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Three fitness apps to help with managing stress and changing behaviour

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I’m a simple man. I like my coffee black, my whisky neat and my workouts free of superfluous distractions. I’ve never cared much for the marriage of app-based technology and strength training. I don’t even like listening to music while exercising. I prefer to focus on the task at hand rather than trick my brain into thinking it’s having a good time.

But resistance to technology’s pull is futile. Even old-school gym culture has been seduced. Check out the Google Play store and you’ll find apps to analyze lifting form, apps to measure bar speed, even apps that count your reps. In certain situations, I can see some value: If you’re into Olympic lifting, where speed and explosiveness take a back seat only to form and technique, then knowing how fast that barbell flies off the floor is important. For everyone else? Not so much.

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This is not to say I have no room in my heart for health and fitness apps. A few have become essential to either my own well-being or that of my clients. These are ones that help with stress management, behaviour change and nutrition – each an important aspect of health that enhance the results promised by a steady diet of strength training.

Waking Up

It’s good sense to ensure your mental muscles get the TLC they deserve. Plenty of science-backed evidence supports the many benefits of simply sitting still with the unquiet mind, and over the years I’ve dabbled with all sorts of meditation programs. My favourite is Waking Up, a subscription-based app created by neuroscientist, author and podcast star Sam Harris.

I love it for many reasons. Number one is, the default length of the daily meditation is 10 minutes. Everyone has 10 minutes to spare, I don’t care how busy your schedule is. Next, the program begins with a 28-day introductory course to help newbies. And, finally, the paid version offers a much deeper and more beneficial experience, but if you’re not ready to drop $100 for an annual subscription, free memberships are offered on a request basis, with 100 per cent being honoured.

Carrot Rewards

The myth of motivation (or, what we mistakenly understand motivation to be) is responsible for more failed attempts at getting fit than anything else. After the initial enthusiasm of taking charge of your health fades – and believe me, it will fade – all you’re left with is yourself. This is why it’s so important to cultivate genuine behaviour change: Once you rewire your brain to actually value a process, you no longer have to channel artificial means to psych yourself up.

Enter Carrot Rewards. The premise couldn’t be more basic: Give people a financial incentive to make healthy decisions and that behaviour will eventually become automatic. Hit your daily step goal? You get a reward!

At its peak popularity, this Canadian-made app had more than one

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Cow-hugging, an alleged wellness fad, has people cuddling farm animals to relieve stress

In the increasingly hectic and stressful year of 2020, people are seeking calm wherever they can find it — from frolicking through the fields to adopting plants. But now there’s another natural way to restore your cortisol levels: cow-hugging.

People in several parts of the world have begun to embrace the alleged wellness trend, which reportedly originated in the Netherlands, where it is known as “koe knuffelen.”

According to the BBC, the practice of cuddling cows is supposed to reduce stress in humans by releasing the bonding hormone oxytocin.

Cows are chosen specifically for their warm body temperatures and calm demeanor, the outlet reported.


“Cows are very relaxed animals, they don’t fight, they don’t get in trouble,” a farm owner who promotes the practice told BBC. “You come to the fields and we have some special hugging cows and you can lay next to [them] — people think it’s very relaxing.”

A 2007 study suggested that the practice, which is catching on in the U.S. and Switzerland, benefits the cows as well as the humans.

A 2007 study suggested that the practice, which is catching on in the U.S. and Switzerland, benefits the cows as well as the humans.


Farms in the United States and Switzerland have also adopted the wellness fad, which, according to a 2007 study in the Applied Animal Behavior Science journal, also benefits the cows.

The researchers found when the animals are rubbed, massaged or pet, they experience relaxation and pleasure as well.

“This suggests that cows may in part perceive human stroking of body regions often-licked similarly to social licking,” the researchers write in their study.


Though, if you’re not near a farm, petting smaller domestic animals has also been shown to lower blood pressure in humans and provide relaxation effects.

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COVID fuels eating disorders, family stress


Here are 4 tips on how to get your kids to wear masks during the coronavirus pandemic.


Pediatricians and public health experts predict a potentially dramatic increase in childhood obesity this year as months of pandemic eating, closed schools, stalled sports and public space restrictions extend indefinitely.

About one in seven children have met the criteria for childhood obesity since 2016, when the federal National Survey of Children’s Health changed its methodology, a report out Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found. 

Though the percentage of children considered obese declined slightly in the past 10 years, it is expected to jump in 2020.

“We were making slow and steady progress until this,” said Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, a Northwestern University economist and professor. “It’s likely we will have wiped out a lot of the progress that we’ve made over the last decade in childhood obesity.”

The trend, seen in pediatric offices, is especially concerning as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week expanded its definition of those at elevated risk of severe COVID-19 disease and death to include people with a body mass index of 25 to 30. Previously, only those with a BMI of 30 and higher were included. That could mean 72% of all Americans are at higher risk of severe disease based on their weight.

Obesity is a top risk factor for nearly all of the chronic health conditions that make COVID-19 more dangerous, including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer. Childhood obesity is a leading predictor of obesity later in life.

BMI factors in weight and height to measure body fat. It can overestimate body fat in people with muscular builds and underestimate it in those who have lost muscle, according to the National Institutes of Health. 

Children are “gaining not insignificant amounts of weight,” said Dr. Lisa Denike, who chairs pediatrics for Northwest Permanente in Portland, Oregon. “We’ve seen kids gain 10 to 20 pounds in a year, who may have had a BMI as a preteen in the 50 or 75th percentile and are now in the 95th percentile. That’s a significant crossing of percentiles into obesity.”

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Denike said one 11-year-old patient at his physical was found to have gained 40 pounds. Type 2 diabetes rates in children are rising, and even though the boy doesn’t have it now, Denike said, “I suspect he will in the coming years as his parents already have it.”

“He’s home in an environment struggling with parents with the same issues rather than learning in health class and having activity outside,” she said. “Kids are reflections of what their parents do.”

Racial, socioeconomic disparities  

Disparities in childhood obesity rates have existed for decades and mirror the disproportionate way COVID-19 affects people of color and those with low incomes, said Jamie Bussel, a senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

“In both cases, these outcomes

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