How Does COVID-19 Impact Your Oral Health?
The Impact of COVID-19 On Oral Health
In 2000, a study was conducted by the Surgeon General on Oral Health , the first of its kind. The report made it very clear that our overall well-being and good health are affected by our oral health. We use our mouths multiple times throughout our lives; whether it is by speaking, eating, or smiling, it plays a part in our quality of life. When cared for properly, many of the oral conditions, including those related to periodontal disease and cavities, are for the most part highly preventable.
However, in 2020, the coronavirus, or COVID-19, swept across the world and, as a result, introduced a whole new arena of oral health issues. The problems did not extend from an individual having contracted the virus but from the lack of proper dental care being available. As the virus resulted in the shut down of most of the country, including those in the dental profession, the domino effect fell downward, causing increased oral health problems.
In early 2020, in a response to the coronavirus pandemic, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommended all dental practices postpone any current elective dental procedures and only continue to offer emergency dental services.
With this recommendation of postponing elective dental procedures, the pandemic took on a whole new manner of indirect impact upon the nation's oral health. Dentists saw an increase in conditions that were usually kept at bay with what had been up until then routine care. The most obvious were:
- The increase of plaque buildup on the patients’ teeth that were unable to schedule their usual routine teeth cleanings.
- Increased appearance of facets that were from wear.
- Fractured teeth along with various lesions that were due to stress-related grinding of the teeth
- A significant increase in cases of dry mouth due to dehydration as a result of having to wear a mask most of the day.
- Loss of enamel due to the increase of snacking on sugary foods and increased drinking of alcohol, whether in the workplace or when sheltering in place at home.
Other indirect issues that many dentists and clinicians reported seeing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and its effect on oral health included increased inflammatory response and a significant decrease in overall oral hygiene. Along with the increased intake of pro-inflammatory types of food, the resulting increase in xerostomia (dry mouth) leading to increases in cavities, periodontal disease, and tooth sensitivity.
To aid in the battle against the effects the coronavirus pandemic may have had on your overall oral health, there are a few steps you can take:
- Make sure to brush your teeth several times a day, using quality toothpaste that promotes good dental care.
- After brushing, you must floss as well. You can miss many food particles by just brushing your teeth, but flossing will take care of what is left.
- Once you have finishing brushing and flossing, make sure to rinse with a good quality mouthwash to disinfect and battle any bacteria left behind.
Remember, even if you didn't contract COVID-19, it might still have a significant impact on your oral health. As the world begins to begin its return to a new normal, we all must remain vigilant in our care of our oral health.