Without a doubt, the stress, anxiety, and worry caused by the global pandemic has certainly taken a mental and physical toll on the health of nearly everyone. At our dental office in Beaverton, our team has seen an increase in oral health problems for our patients, many of whom enjoyed quality oral health before the pandemic.
According to the American Dental Association, the oral health of Americans everywhere has deteriorated during the pandemic. Dentists across the country have reported huge spikes in the number of cracked teeth they’re seeing in patients, and that’s just the start of the problem. Dentists have also reported seeing an increase in gum disease, tooth decay, cavities, and stress related oral health problems, such as teeth grinding and TMJ.
Considering the important role our oral health plays in protecting our oral and overall health, any increase in oral health problems becomes especially troublesome during a time when our immune systems need to function at their best. So why has the oral health of Americans become such a serious issue?
The Decline of America’s Oral Health
When much of the country closed back in March to prevent the spread of COVID-19, dental offices in most states were only able to treat patients experiencing a dental emergency. In an effort to promote social distancing and reduce the demand for PPE (personal protective equipment) for frontline health care workers, dental care was forced to take a temporary time out.
Patients who needed to receive routine care, such as cleanings, exams, and screenings, were forced to postpone their visits or cancel them entirely. After a few months, most states eased off of their restrictions, allowing dentists around the country, including at our dental office in Beaverton, to see patients for any type of care. Unfortunately, even though most dentist’s offices have reopened, many patients continue to stay away.
Since March, we’ve repeatedly heard about the importance of wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and reducing the amount of time we spend indoors around others. Unfortunately, it’s simply impossible to practice any of the steps most people take to reduce their risk for contracting the virus when receiving dental care.
For a patient to receive any kind of care, they must remove their mask, allow a hygienist to get close, and spend time in our dental office in Beaverton. For many people, receiving dental care during the pandemic means exposing themselves to contracting the virus, something they don’t view as worth the risk.
While we should all practice the kind of safety procedures that can help to lower our risk for contracting the virus, avoiding the dentist out of an abundance of caution simply creates more problems than it solves.
The Safe and Necessary Need to Visit a Dentist
Avoiding the dentist out of a fear of contracting COVID-19 is not only unnecessary, but it can also threaten your long-term oral health.
Even though visiting the dentist may seem like a potential risk, the American Dental Association and its member dentists have taken significant precautions to ensure that every visit to receive care is a safe one.
At our dental office in Beaverton, we’ve implemented a variety of safety measures designed to help to protect the health of our staff and patients. From staggered appointment times and limited office contact to increased cleaning guidelines and the extensive use of PPE, we’ve worked hard to ensure that our patients and staff remain safe.
The alternative, avoiding care until a vaccine arrives in the winter or early spring of 2021, has directly led to the increase of oral health problems seen by dentists across the U.S. Without regular dental care, existing problems are allowed to progressively become worse. This can lead to the type of permanent damage occurring that dramatically alters the function and appearance of a patient’s smile.