Andrea Piacquadio

Order of Dentists sounds alert over pandemic’s toll on oral hygiene

Portugal’s Order of Dentists has sounded the alert over the toll the pandemic is having on people’s attention to oral hygiene.

Initially people were terrified of the thought of contagion if they went to the dentists (then of course, many shut down over the various lockdowns) leading to routine check-ups going by the board.

Then the issue was with the viability of many clinics, around 5,500 of which have either shut down completely or had to ‘let go’ of various staff members.

Since then, issues with people’s teeth have caught up with them, to the point that dentists have found themselves pulling out more teeth than usual, filling more fillings, and treating infections and fractures on a scale unseen pre-pandemic.

Miguel Pavão, president of the Order of Dentists, has told Expresso that another very worrying consequence of the pandemic (and people’s lack of routine checks) is that incidents of mouth cancers and gum disease are now being flagged later rather than sooner.

Both are ‘silent diseases’ – until it becomes uncomfortably late.

And while clinics are registering falls in revenue, another problem has been clients’ ability to pay: 60% of dentists have said they have come up against this problem since the start of the pandemic.

Stress too has impacted on people’s mouths, with more incidents of ‘bruxism’ (grinding of teeth, usually during sleep), which results in the wearing down of teeth at best, and fractures at worst.

Bottom line, if you haven’t had a dentists’ check up since the start of the pandemic, now could be the time to book one.