The rise of Covid-19 has wreaked havoc in many aspects of our lives. But most importantly, one area that has been severely overlooked is the damage that the effects of the pandemic have caused to our teeth, gums and overall oral health.
COVID-19 has had severe impacts on the oral health of the UK population, according to new research findings. So what has really been going on?
- 1 in 5 people say they have not been brushing their teeth twice a day.
- 1 in 10 have been drinking more alcohol.
- 1 in 6 admit to not brushing their teeth as much as before the pandemic.
- 1 in 5 adults are now eating unhealthier foods than before the pandemic.
- 1 in 4 have reported experiencing toothache during the lockdown.
- 1 in 10 have experienced oral pain for more than two weeks.
- 1 in 4 have been online to fix their dental issues at home.
- 1 in 5 have not seen a dentist for over two years, not just because of the pandemic.
These statistics show that the effects of being in a national lockdown not only once but two or three times for some, has made the UK’s oral health situation a lot worse.
Britain’s dental health has taken a hit since the beginning of 2020, not only from us binge-eating sugar filled snacks and sweets while we were stuck working from home. But also mostly because so many people have not been able to access their regular dental appointments.
Since the first lockdown eased many dental practices, including The Neem Tree, opened their doors, welcoming all their clients to a safe and sanitised environment. However, while emergency appointments were on the rise and most people only went to the dentist because they absolutely had to, routine visits were overlooked by many of the British public.
According to the British Dental Association, 19 million fewer dental appointments have been undertaken in the year 2020 than expected. A survey finds that approximately half of the UK’s parents say that not only have they missed their dental checkups since restrictions were first introduced (March 2020), but so have their children. The more worrying statistics is that before lockdown even began in 2020, there were already a serious number of people needing dental appointments, and the ongoing restrictions on dental practices since lockdown began only made it worse (Neil Carmichael; ADG chair).
The survey, consisting of 2000 people, showed that 13% of this sample said they not only missed their appointments since March 2020, they have not been able to even schedule an appointment since; another effect caused by the pandemic. This is why a number of people have opted to get their teeth, as well as their children’s, treated and checked privately. Because these dentists have been able to put COVID measures in place quicker than many NHS dental practices and are able to take more appointments.
FACT: Over the last year there has been a decrease of 19 MILLION dental appointments in 2020.
FACT: The rise of tooth decay is higher now more than ever before, especially within children
FACT: Another effect of the pandemic is that many brits being at home during lockdown has forced many to become their own DIY dentists… Does that sound as dangerous to you as it does to us?
Lockdown Tooth Decay in Children
The biggest worry is for children, whose enamel is a lot softer and thinner than adults and is more vulnerable to the sugar-loaded ‘lockdown diets’ that many people have succumbed to over the last year. As dentists, many are worried that once children come back for their routine appointments that are necessary for the health of their mouth and teeth, dentists will be faced with a hurricane of untreated tooth decay – from both adults and children.
The ADG has also stated more hospital operations will be needed for children’s teeth to be removed as they had reached the point during lockdown that they became unsaveable. Hospitals in England carried out on average 177 operations a day on children and teenagers within the last year to remove teeth, costing the NHS more than £40m. Many dentists are afraid that the recent lockdown will make the problem significantly worse.
Dentists have expressed concerns as ‘lockdown diets’ have included many adults consuming a lot more sugar, but also children being given more sugary treats and drinks as a result of being at home all day. Sugary baking in particular has become a very popular lockdown activity, as well as sugary snacking.
The Dangers of DIY Dentistry
Although it has never been advised to DIY any type of dentistry at home, many have attempted to remedy their dental pains during lockdown by going online to find solutions to fix their own dental problems. Many felt that they had no other choice while they were in pain and dentists were closed.
But the results of these DIY home remedies could have caused a lot more harm than good for your teeth or gums. Although many people could have been successful in relieving their oral pains, they may well have created a worse issue that they are unaware of.
If you are one of these people who had dental issues during lockdown, whether you attempted to fix it on your own or not and whether you believe your DIY dentistry worked, we definitely advise you book a checkup appointment at your dentist to ensure that everything is as healthy as can be.
If you are experiencing any pain or dental issues the best thing you can do for yourself and your oral health is to book an emergency dental appointment. If you call in the morning, The Neem Tree can usually see you at some point on the same day! Under no circumstance do we advocate DIY at home dentistry!
Dentistry is a critical prevention service, the oral problems that are created during lockdown or that are left untreated and getting worse due to the lockdown will only get exponentially worse over time. Many dentists are likely to be faced with this hurricane of decay when routine appointments get back on track.
Do you remember when your last routine dental check up was? If you have been neglecting your oral health or you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, book your appointment at the neem tree today! With all the covid precautions in place, all staff vaccinated and PPE worn at all times, the dentist is a safe place to go for both you and your teeth!