By Jamie J. Alexander, DDS, Your Boynton Beach Dentist
In September, USA TODAY ran a story on the status of oral health during the pandemic. By interviewing dentists, including one of my Pankey Institute colleagues, Dr. Matt Messina, who is a spokesman for the American Dental Association, three observable trends have come to light. In italics below, I will express my thoughts strongly because my concern for you is genuine.
Trend 1: The pandemic has altered normal lives and people have neglected their oral hygiene, as well as delayed visits to the dentist for routine cleanings and checkups.
It is in your best interest to book an appointment now if you have not been seen in the last six months. Do not delay this essential health routine. Gum disease will become harder to fight and your autoimmune system will be weakened. At risk for heart disease? Do not risk gum inflammation, as oral bacteria will enter your bloodstream and inflame your cardiovascular system.
Trend 2: The patients seeking treatment largely are those with dental pain. They are the ones uncomfortable about delaying treatment.
This means we are seeing more patients with urgent and emergency needs here in Boynton Beach and I am on call to handle this. If I recommended treatment for dental problems at your last visit, schedule treatment now before the problems become painfully urgent.
Trend 3: There has been a spike in the number of cracked teeth dentists are seeing. During stress, people tend to grind their teeth. This can be during the day and night. Another cause of fractures may be that people who had weakened enamel and restorations have delayed recommended treatment and greater damage has occurred.
I have training in the diagnosis of excessive wear and damage on teeth due to bruxism (stress grinding), and I am also seeing this trend here locally in the Boynton Beach area among my patients. I am observing more TMD symptoms, which are associated with stress grinding. Keep in mind that I can create a custom bite guard for you to relieve symptoms and prevent further damage. Your custom bite guard will be less costly than dental crowns in the future.
USA TODAY reported only one in five adults have visited a dentist office amid the pandemic, even though two in five adults said they have had dental issues since March. USA TODAY also reported a survey released in August by Guardian Life, saying one in four U.S. adults will not be comfortable going to the dentist by the end of the year.
We are minimizing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in our dental office by carefully adhering to advised safety standards. Routine visits for checkups and cleanings should occur every six months. Waiting is not in your best interest, even if you are not in pain. Remember, the three trends reported are problematical long term, because dental problems become worse when untreated.