The impact of the COVID pandemic and lockdowns are felt across all areas of society. The virus disrupted many facets of our health systems, including the oral health sector. According to the CDC, in-person dental appointments were severely limited during the lockdown period of the pandemic.
COVID impacts oral health in several ways. While appointments were difficult to obtain, there was an increase in the number of patients looking for appointments due to several oral health issues caused directly by the virus.
How COVID Can Affect Oral Health
COVID can affect your oral health in several ways. While many effects are directly a result of the virus itself, many impacts come from delaying regular visits and stress caused by the pandemic.
Stress and anxiety
The COVID-19 pandemic caused huge stress for people in numerous ways. With job security in flux, fear of losing loved ones, and uncertainty about the future, many people experienced heightened stress throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many people grind their teeth in their sleep due to increased stress and anxiety levels. Teeth-grinding can cause teeth to become chipped and cracked. It can also wear down the enamel, increasing your risk of developing decay and caries.
Our dentist at Valley Dental Plainfield recommend customized mouthguards for patients who grind their teeth during their sleep.
Patients with the virus commonly report a loss of taste and smell. Up to 4 in 10 COVID patients reported experiencing these symptoms.
However, the American Dental Association (ADA) found that up to 43% of patients reported experiencing dry mouth, which can have a more noticeable impact on oral health.
Low saliva production significantly increases the risk of gum disease, gum recession, and tooth decay. Saliva contains minerals like calcium and magnesium that are essential for remineralizing enamel. Saliva is also responsible for removing food particles and harmful bacteria to maintain a healthy mouth microbiome.
Lesions and sores
Some COVID patients reported experiencing lesions and sores under their tongues and along the sides of their mouths after testing positive for the virus. Although not typical for everyone who became sick with COVID-19, sores such as these can be symptomatic of more serious problems such as gum disease.
While many symptoms like dry mouth and a loss of taste can be attributed directly to the virus, many of the impacts on oral health resulted from the limited availability of dental appointments.
During the pandemic, many people canceled appointments due to a fear of illness, and the ADA reports that many people have still not returned to the dentist since the pandemic began in 2020. Missing regular check-ups can result in infection, tooth damage, and undiagnosed gum disease, leading to more complex problems and invasive and costly treatment.
How to Maintain Your Oral Health During COVID
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect oral health directly, it is essential to practice good dental habits such as:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
- Flossing twice per day
- Using mouthwash once a day
- Avoid sugary and acidic foods and beverages
- Visiting your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings
Support Your Oral Health With Valley Dental Care
The COVID pandemic impacts your oral hygiene, so it’s important to stay vigilant with your dental routines. To schedule your check-up, contact Valley Dental Plainfield at (815) 436-6800.