If you’re going to skip dental visits – as some folks continue to do in this pandemic, despite the low likelihood of COVID transmission – you’ve got to make sure you’re at least practicing good home care.
That means more than just brushing and flossing. It also includes things like eating healthfully, getting enough quality sleep and physical activity, and managing stress.
But some of these things can seem harder for many to come by these days – at least judging from the results of a recent survey by the American Association of Endodontists (root canal specialists).
In fact, about 1 in 5 Americans admit that they’ve not been brushing their teeth at all. About 1 in 4 reported “forgetting” to brush at night. The same number said that disrupted routines had them brushing later each morning, as well.
Slightly fewer owned up to flossing less frequently these days, with 23% saying they don’t floss at all. That’s actually a bit of an improvement over pre-pandemic reports. Still, considering that most people fail to floss daily, that’s not saying a whole heck of a lot.
On top of that, about a third confessed to eating more sweet stuff – a habit that makes oral hygiene all the more important.
Is it any wonder then that dentists have been reporting more cases of decayed and damaged teeth during the pandemic? Not only do you have trends like the above and an increase of stress contributing to bruxing and TMJ troubles; there’s also anecdotal evidence that regular mask-wear may be leading to more problems with dry mouth, bad breath, cavities, and other issues – yet another reason why it’s so important to keep up with both your home care and regular dental visits.
Although “every six months” is the traditional rule for how often you should get an exam and professional cleaning, the time between visits can vary, depending on your current oral health. If you’re among the half of adults over 30 with gum disease, more frequent deep cleanings are usually needed to keep the disease from progressing and making a future of tooth loss more likely. .
If you’ve found your own oral health habits slipping during the strange days of this pandemic, we encourage you to recommit to practicing good home care and seeing your dentist as often as recommended. After all, dental problems typically only get harder and more expensive to treat the longer you try to ignore them. Prevention remains the best dental insurance available.