When the pandemic first hit the United States almost a year ago, every aspect of life was thrown into disarray. Businesses closed, people began working from home, and kids started remote learning. In the world of healthcare, many appointments were rescheduled or cancelled altogether as doctors’ offices and clinics took time to adjust. And in many cases, people decided not to go to their regularly scheduled appointments to avoid catching Covid-19.
However, new research says that Americans have neglected one particular doctor’s visit over the past year — and it could wreak havoc on your health. That doctor is, actually, the dentist.
How Oral Health Has Worsened During the Pandemic
Many Americans already suffer from poor oral health. More than one-quarter of adults have untreated tooth decay, and another one in four have said they’ve felt pain in and around their mouths sometime in the past 12 months. On top of that, almost half of adults over 30 show signs of gum disease.
While a toothache or tense jaw feels bad enough, an ongoing lack of oral hygiene — not just brushing and flossing and also not going to regular check-ups and cleanings — can create other long-term health issues. These can include chronic illnesses like arthritis and liver disease.
The past year has also brought on an unprecedented number of other oral health problems as people try to cope with living in a pandemic. Due to stress, some Americans are leaning more on habits that lead to more tooth and gum issues, like drinking, smoking, and consuming sugary food and beverages. Medications for depression and anxiety have gone up during the pandemic and are known to cause dry mouth, which can lead to trouble chewing and swallowing and even mouth sores and infections.
Additionally, dentists are reporting seeing more tooth fractures than in pre-Covid days as people clench their jaws while working from home and grind their teeth at night due to stress or anxiety.
Why Aren’t People Going to The Dentist During The Pandemic?
Despite these new and worsening oral health concerns, there are worries about seeing a dentist while Covid is still rampant.
Many of the concerns around the dentist’s office in the pandemic are about the rate of Covid transmission. Luckily, dentist offices at large have taken numerous precautions to keep employees and patients safe. These include monitoring everyone for symptoms beforehand, cleaning instruments and surfaces thoroughly, and wearing personal protective equipment like a mask and gloves.
A regular dentist visit shouldn’t be your only form of oral healthcare though. There are plenty of natural remedies you can try throughout the day, like swishing sea salt and drinking tea after meals. You should also continue to brush your teeth twice a day (preferably with an electric toothbrush!), floss, and avoid sugary foods and beverages. After all, you have so many things to worry about right now, your teeth shouldn’t be one of them.
This story originally appeared on our sister site, First for Women.