One of the key findings from the Australian Dental Association’s (ADA) annual Consumer Survey of 25,000 Aussies, is that one in three people postponed dental treatment in the last 12 months due to COVID-related concerns.
Of those who postponed, 23 per cent were aged 18-24, and 41 per cent aged 65-74, with more women than men putting it off across all ages.
The main reason for delaying, as cited by respondents, was that they felt their dental problem was not urgent (26 per cent), they were concerned about catching COVID at the clinic or while travelling there (17 per cent), they couldn’t afford dental care (16 per cent) and they couldn’t get to the clinic or they were in lockdown (14 per cent).
Of those who delayed their dental consultations, 21 per cent felt this adversely affected them, while 17 per cent were unsure whether it did. Residents of Victoria, NSW and the ACT who experienced greater periods of lockdown, more commonly reported that their oral health was adversely affected.
“These statistics tell us a lot about where oral health is sitting for people during the COVID pandemic,” ADA oral health promoter Dr Mikaela Chinotti said.
“With people losing their jobs or working reduced hours, dental care took on a lesser priority or was inaccessible during lockdowns for some families.
“That said though, with two thirds of people still getting treatments or attending for check-ups, particularly in states less impacted by lockdowns, this is good news for the nation’s oral health because oral conditions left untreated can result in serious consequences including on the rest of the body.”
Fortunately many Aussies don’t plan to put off visiting the dentist for too long: 54 per cent planned to go in the next one to three months, 22 per cent were going to book within three to 12 months, and others were either waiting for the pandemic to ease, or to reach full vaccination status or were still unsure.
“Anecdotally we’ve heard from many ADA dentist members that with the stress of the pandemic there’s been an increase in cracked teeth, tooth sensitivity and/or pain associated with clenching or grinding of the teeth and an increase in discomfort from the jaw joint,” Dr Chinotti said.
“For those Aussies who delayed dental care due to the COVID pandemic, Dental Health Week (1-7 August) is a great reminder that it’s time to show your teeth some love by taking them on a date to the dentist.”