Oral Health Suffers During Global Pandemic
With day-to-day routines out of whack, many get out of the oral hygiene habit.
A national survey of 2,000 adults in the United Kingdom found that one in three respondents had stopped practicing regular oral hygiene during the global pandemic. Instead, daily oral hygiene regimens scattered into a range of configurations.1 More than one in four admitted to no longer flossing, 20% noted they only brushed once a day, and 22% reported going for more than 3 days without brushing. In fact, study results indicate that 29% of Brits agree their oral health has suffered during the pandemic and lockdown periods.
Certainly, fear of exposure may have kept many people from going to the dentist during the height of the pandemic. But, of those surveyed, 28% attribute the lapse in oral healthcare to the precedence placed on other health-related issues. It was disruption in day-to-day life, however, that appears to have figured even more heavily in the decline of oral health practices. In fact, 36% of respondents reported they often forgot to brush their teeth due to the lack of a routine. 1
The consequences of these lapses ranged in severity, with 82% of dentists who participated in the survey reporting an uptick in the need for restorative care. They also indicated a rise in rates of oral pain, caries, abscesses, sensitivity, severe plaque buildup, and periodontal diseases.1
REGAINING ORAL HEALTH
It’s become increasingly evident that oral health is tied to overall health. However, survey responses showed that awareness of this link is low. Nearly 28% of study participants were oblivious to the fact that oral conditions can pave the way to a vast assortment of other health issues.1
Oral health professionals have some work to do in helping their patients recommit to oral healthcare regimens. Ensuring that patients get back into the routine of seeing their oral health professional twice per year is the first step. As COVID-19 case numbers continue to drop, office staff may want to reach out to patients who have not been seen in the past 2 years. If COVID-19 was the cause of their absence, they may be ready to return.
Once oral health professionals have patients back in the operatory, education should be top of mind. Recommending helpful oral hygiene tools—such as interdental picks and toothbrushes with fun characters and bright colors for children—can help patients restart their oral hygiene regimens and get back to optimal oral health.
- Bashforth E. How have Brits neglected their oral health during the pandemic? Available here.