COVID-19 and Dental Problems

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people in many ways.  One such impact involves dental health.   Across the nation, many dental patients are just now returning to their dentist for routine dental care.  For several months in 2020, people had only limited access to dental care as a result of COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions.  Unfortunately, this limited access to care coupled with increased personal stress has resulted in a significant increase of new dental problems.  This situation is well described in the following article distributed by the Dental Morning Minute on November 7, 2020.
Many Dental Patients Experiencing Increased Decay, Other Conditions Amid Pandemic
The Palm Beach (FL) Post (10/28, Clough) reported that returning dental patients are coming in with new issues, such as “pain or soreness in their jaw, specifically their temporomandibular joint, from clenching or grinding their teeth.” In addition, some patients “neglected once-small dental problems and now are facing big issues.” Patients “who might have had a small cavity at the time may find they now require a root canal or crown to fix a diseased tooth, said Dr. Michael Starr, a Wellington dentist.”
       TODAY (10/2, Breen) reported new data from the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute “indicates that there has been a rise in stress-related dental conditions, like tooth grinding and cracking, during the coronavirus pandemic.” According to “the data, which was collected by the ADA Health Policy Institute via a survey sent to thousands of U.S. dentists, responding dentists have seen cases of tooth grinding and clenching rise by 59.4%, with instances of both cracked and chipped teeth rising by 53.4% each.” There has also been “an increase in cavities, gum disease, and symptoms of temporomandibular joint dysfunction.”
       WebMD (9/18, Doheny) reported that “a combination of delayed care and stress have led some dentists to see cracked teeth, sore jaws, and cavities, dentists say.”
       In a Q&A with Rutgers Today (11/4, Stetler), Cecile A. Feldman, dean of the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, discussed how the pandemic has highlighted the importance of regular, accessible dental care. “Not being able to see the dentist for months unless it was a dire emergency helped people realize how important it can be,” said Dr. Feldman. “Tooth infections that could have been caught early wound up abscessing. Patients who might have just needed a filling between visits required root canals.”
At Bushnell Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, we have also noticed an increase in dental related problems during these times.  Many of these problems are associated with bruxism which involves clenching and grinding of the teeth.  This condition is more common during periods of increased personal stress.  Bruxism can often lead to cracked or broken teeth, as well as, jaw joint problems.
Another area of increased problems that we have seen involves a higher incidence of periodontal disease and gum related problems.  Many patients are well beyond their normal teeth cleaning intervals.   This often leads to increased cases of gingivitis and periodontitis.  Gingivitis is typically reversible but periodontitis can result in permanent damage to the supporting bone around your teeth.
Our recommendation at Bushnell Family & Cosmetic Dentistry is to resume your routine dental care as soon as possible.  This will enable us to diagnose and treat, if necessary, any new dental problems that you might have.  Bushnell Family & Cosmetic Dentistry is taking extra measures during the pandemic to ensure that your visit is a safe one.  All of our patients are screened, including a body temperature scan, upon entering our facility.  All of our team members are also screened at the start of each day.  Additional protective barriers have been installed and additional protective protocols have been incorporated throughout the office.  Additionally, we offer you a virtual reception area where you can notify us of your arrival at our facility and stay in your vehicle.  When we are ready to treat you, we will notify you and you can go directly to your personal treatment room.
We are here for you during these difficult times.  Please contact our office to schedule an appointment or should you have any questions.  Stay safe and keep your mouth healthy!