One huge concern most people have in these difficult times of the Covid-19 pandemic is whether it is a major cause of dental problems. If it is, how can visiting the nearest dental practice help?
Although oral health is one of the generally unrelated health issues arising in these times, it is affecting your future oral health in various ways.
According to a publication in the Journal of Global Oral Health, prevention of oral health problems may reduce the need for dental procedures during these times. For this, one needs to make frequent and timely visits to the dentist for check-ups and prophylactic dental therapies.
In the UK, ever since the first lockdown back in March 2020, there have been approximately 14 million missed dental care appointments. What would you say these missed appointments mean in terms of individual oral health?
Maintaining Healthy Teeth and Gums
Most of the missed dental appointments were six-monthly or yearly check-ups which included routine hygiene (scale and polish) appointments. These appointments help dentists detect early signs of bigger underlying dental problems. Usually, these include decay and erosion, which are easy to identify in x-rays and simple examinations. When left untreated, they can lead to larger problems such as tooth loss, gum disease, and possibly unmanageable pain.
Gum problems are very common all over the UK. Most people develop gum disease in adulthood. The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis. This condition causes bleeding gums and bad breath, but no long-term damage, as at this stage, the gum disease is reversible. To control the gum disease and reverse this, it is important to maintain healthy gums. This is something one can do by implementing a proper dental cleaning regime at home and visiting the nearest dental practice as often as possible for your regular hygiene visits. Missing scheduled and timely appointments will allow more advanced gum disease to set in and worsen, causing periodontitis which is a destructive and painful condition.
DIY Dental Care Tips
Sadly, the lockdown scenario in 2020 caused most dental practices to close down. This led to approximately 25% of all households in the UK attempting DIY dental care to treat tooth decay or gum pain. Some even tried tooth extraction on their own at home!
According to recent research, mouth cancers have increased by 22% in the past five years. Oral cancer is sadly the sixth most common and fatal cancer in the world today. These figures are quite disturbing. Often, detection is too late when the condition spreads to other areas. Initial onset is often painless. Regular dental check-ups can prove very good for an early detection leading to a much better long term prognosis. Research shows there is an 80% chance that early detection increases the patient’s survival beyond 5 years. When discovered later, survival chances dropped to 30-50%.
Missed dental visits also affect younger patients (children). Not managing emerging dental issues like misaligned teeth, decay, gaps, or crowding can affect their dental health. As with other dental problems, early detection always makes treatment easier and more effective. Wearing braces is a good way to manage misaligned teeth. Ignoring the problem can lead to jaw aches, headaches, and speech impairments.
Good Dental Hygiene Habits
Children who visit their dentist regularly with parents are more likely to be conscious about their dental care. They also feel less anxiety about visiting the dentist for proper oral health checks. Children and adults can brush two or more times a day to prevent dental problems during lockdown scenarios. Using mouthwash and dental floss is also highly recommended to ensure proper DIY dental care at home.
Consequences of Lacking DIY Oral Health Care
To sum it up, if you cannot attend routine dental check-ups, at a minimum take care of your teeth to prevent gum and tooth infections. Without proper care, these eventually turn into conditions that are more painful. Sometimes, bad dental hygiene habits develop, like eating sweets just before bed, overusing a toothpick, not changing the toothbrush, and not using mouthwash. This can lead to gum disease, bad breath, decay and other dental problems, furthermore studies prove that there is a strong relationship between gum disease and mental health.
People who have untreated dental problems may feel extremely self-conscious about their smile. This affects their social interactions as they avoid smiling and meeting people altogether.
Another consequence of neglecting oral health care is the increased likelihood of making an emergency appointment with the dentist. Failure to give the initial problem proper treatment in a timely fashion can cause more suffering and pain, through abscess formation or a cavity getting worse.
Visiting a Dental Practice during Covid-19 Pandemic
If you are worried about visiting the dentist during the Covid-19 pandemic, simply follow the available guidelines to ensure your safety. Our dental practice in Ilkley follows all the current guidance to maintain the health and safety of all patients and staff.