During the pandemic, we all got a little lazy. Pajamas and sweatpants replaced skirts and suits, and unless you had a virtual meeting, you might have skipped putting on makeup or shaving. Some of this laziness could have also crept into our dental care routines, putting our oral health at risk.
As restrictions ease, reports indicate that more people are venturing back into the dental chair. Dentists are now finding the COVID pandemic wreaked havoc on more than just our bodies. The pandemic jeopardized our teeth and oral health.
How the COVID-19 Pandemic Impacts Oral Health
By now, the detrimental effects of COVID on the body are well-documented. What is only now coming to light is that the pandemic also compromised our oral health. A recent American Dental Association survey finds that 76 percent of general practice dentists have seen a significant rise in the number of patients suffering from bruxism or teeth-grinding compared to pre-pandemic times. Two-thirds of dentists also reported seeing an increasing number of patients complaining of headaches and jaw pain, while 30 percent of dentists saw a rise in tooth decay.
Why the surge of dental and oral problems? There may be more than one answer to this question. For starters, the pandemic took an unprecedented toll on people’s mental health. Studies find the pandemic triggered feelings of stress, anxiety, isolation, and depression. These mental health conditions may explain why dentists are seeing more patients engage in teeth grinding. Jaw clenching and teeth grinding tend to be coping mechanisms for dealing with stress.
Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety can also impact how people care for themselves. Those with depression or feelings of isolation may find it challenging to engage in daily routines related to self-care, including oral hygiene. As a result, they may develop dental problems like cavities and gum disease.
Tooth decay is also more prevalent, especially in children, according to the Journal of the American Dental Association. For one, in the early days of the pandemic, it felt like you needed to grab whatever you could since staples seemed in short supply. As the pandemic wore on, many people turned to indulgent foods, sweet treats, and sugary drinks as a source of comfort. Food is another coping mechanism people turn to during challenging times and periods of stress.
Unfortunately, an increase in indulgent foods paired with the inability to keep regular dental cleaning appointments created the perfect storm and has led to an increase in cavities and tooth decay. Many dental offices closed their doors during the pandemic out of an abundance of caution. With better protocols in place and readily available vaccinations, dental clinics are open for business and ready to treat pandemic-related oral health issues.
Fight Back Against Pandemic-Related Dental Health Concerns
What can you do to help prevent pandemic-related oral health problems? Consider the following:
- Change your diet: add more fruits and vegetables
- Consider adding additional tools to your dental routine, like mouthwash, a water pick, or an electric toothbrush
- Brush and floss twice a day, every day
- Start making routine appointments with your dentist again
Schedule an Appointment Today
Ready to get your oral health back on track? Make an appointment today with Babylon Dental Care. Our practitioners are committed to safety and continue to follow NYSDOH (New York State Department of Health) guidelines to protect your and your family’s health. To schedule an appointment, call our office at (631) 983-6665.