When COVID-19 began to spread across the U.S., dental health took a lower priority for many people. Some postponed their regular dental appointments in favor of staying home. Others paid less attention to oral hygiene, perhaps motivated by remote work or school.
Here, we will discuss facts and figures about how COVID has changed our oral health habits. We’ll also offer advice on how to resume your pre-pandemic routines.
Pandemic Dental Habits By the Numbers
In 2021, the American Association of Endodontists launched a survey asking Americans how their oral health routines changed during the pandemic. These were some of their crucial findings:
- New dental appointment attitudes – Over 50% of adults surveyed delayed routine cleanings and exams, with many worried about COVID safety in the dentist’s office. Of those whose dental habits changed during COVID, 28% did not schedule or forgot routine appointments.
- Less brushing – 25% of respondents decided to brush later in the morning, and 21% neglected to brush in the morning. Meanwhile, 23% forgot to brush before bed.
- Less regular flossing – 24% of respondents confessed to flossing less frequently, with 23% not flossing at all.
- More junk food consumption – 31% of adults admitted to enjoying more sweets.
Millennials took the top spot among the different age groups whose dental habits changed. 43% did not keep their regular dental routine during the pandemic.
What Our Offices Are Doing
Although dentists understand how much the pandemic has impacted everyone’s routines, they also encourage patients not to delay identifying and treating oral health issues. Seemingly minor decay can quickly spread to the teeth’s internal layers, warranting more intensive procedures to correct it. Decay can also affect the gums, leading to periodontal disease, infections, or even an increased risk of heart problems.
From the beginning of the pandemic, dental practices have been highly conscious of COVID risks and established mitigation measures to keep patients safe. Our clinic requires patients and visitors to wear masks, and our staff will wear appropriate personal protective equipment. We also follow strict sterilization routines before each appointment and procedure.
Resuming Good Oral Health Routines
Though many of us have broken our usual oral health habits, it’s simple to form them again with the right amount of motivation and dedication. Follow these tips to get started:
- Begin with short-term goals – It’s easier to stay motivated when our goals don’t look too far into the long term. For example, promise yourself to brush morning and night for a month straight. As you succeed at multiple short-term goals, you’ll find that they turn into habits.
- Use visual cues – Place your toothbrush, floss, mouthwash, Waterpik, or other supplies in a more prominent place, such as your bathroom counter, dining room table, or even your nightstand. When you see them, it won’t be easy to forget to brush and floss.
- Schedule those appointments – Just as there are no substitutes for good at-home oral hygiene, there are also no substitutes for a dentist’s keen eye. They’ll use X-rays and 3D cameras to spot problems you may not see yourself.
Don’t be discouraged if your oral health took the back burner through the pandemic. Anytime is a good time to get back on track. The West Babylon and Patchogue teams at Babylon Dental Care offer state-of-the-art techniques and treatments with compassion, understanding, and professionalism. Contact our office at (631) 983-6665 to book a cleaning and comprehensive exam.