For many of us, lockdown measures in the UK this year meant a significant change in our daily routines. With so many non-essential workers working from home, or temporarily furloughed, the idea of a normal day quickly went out the window. Needless to say, lockdown also had a considerable impact on general, mental and oral health.
New research has found that 96% of dental professionals believe that lockdown in the UK has had a negative impact on the nation’s oral health. In an attempt to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, dental surgeries were closed in March. Whilst the majority of dental practices were allowed to open again from June, having implemented necessary changes to ensure patient and staff safety, patients were not allowed to visit the dentist for more than two months.
Whilst dental practices are now open, 88% of dental professionals believe that UK dental health will falter following a lack of routine appointments, especially as many people will still feel apprehensive about visiting a dentist whilst there is no sign of a solution to end the continuing pandemic. In addition to concerns about oral health and missed appointments, research suggests that 77% of dental professionals also fear that lockdown will mean oral cancers will be missed, and as a consequence, not referred.
Missed appointments are not the only concern that has arisen as a result of lockdown. Research carried out by Floe Oral Care suggests that only 12% of British people have been brushing their teeth the recommended minimum of twice a day since the COVID-19 lockdown. 44% of those asked admitted to brushing their teeth only once a day, whilst a further 18% answered that they don’t brush their teeth on a daily basis.
Without normal daily regimes, oral health routines such as brushing and flossing have quickly been forgotten. Without having to leave the house for work or appointments, it has become much easier for people to fall out of the habit of brushing their teeth in the morning. As a result, for many people, it has been a regular occurrence that teeth are only brushed at night before bed.
With so many people failing to carry out important oral health practices, oral health problems in the UK can certainly be expected to rise.
Since dental practices have reopened, dentists have seen an increase in jaw pain, tooth sensitivity, and even teeth fractures. These issues have arisen as a result of patients grinding their teeth as a result of stress. The isolation and changes related to lockdown have had a significant effect on mental health for many people, and increased stress has led to many of us failing to get enough restorative sleep. The result is a fight or flight response, with many people clenching their jaws as a result of stress, rather than relaxing and sleeping properly. Increased stress means that the body stays in a state of tension, the pressure of which goes to the teeth.
The unprecedented number of people working from home has also contributed to grinding problems. Many people are working at makeshift workstations, without advised ergonomics. Perched in awkward body positions, with shoulders hunched forward and the spine curved. This poor posture during the day can be linked to a grinding problem at night.
Book a dental checkup today
If you have not seen a dentist in the last six months as a result of lockdown, it’s important to arrange an appointment for a full dental and oral health checkup.
At Dentalia, we have made a number of changes in our practice to ensure as safe an environment as possible for our staff and patients, including operating pre-appointment screenings, in which we will make sure that patients are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19 and have not been in contact with anyone who has.
In addition to routine and emergency dental appointments, we can also offer virtual consultations for cosmetic dentistry.
To arrange a dental appointment, please call us today on 01256 353033. We look forward to welcoming you safely to the practice.