According to CNN, a new survey indicates that among the many difficulties that the Covid-19 global pandemic has caused is that children have not had the right amount of access to preventive dental care, such as checkups, and cleaning. In this article, we will discuss CNN’s piece and what it means for dental care.
According to the survey cited by CNN, a third of parents believe that the pandemic has been a barrier to getting their children access to preventive dental care. 40% of parents say that they avoided seeking out preventive dental care, fearful about getting their children and themselves infected with Covid-19, or simply reacting to the closure of many dental practices, or the preventive costs of dental care.
Oral health is closely linked to overall health. So the failure to gain access to preventive dental care does not just compromise oral health, it compromises the overall health of these children who have not had access to preventive dental care. And delays risk exacerbating dental issues, leading to tooth decay. Children who have problems with tooth decay are likely to experience problems in their adulthood.
Fears surrounding the possibility of infection in dental practices are unfounded. Infection rates of dentists remain among the lowest compared to other frontline health care workers. Dental practices have always had high sanitary standards and the pandemic simply raised those standards even higher. The guidelines in place to protect health care workers have so far been very successful in protecting patients as well as staff.
This goes against people’s expectations and the fact that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration designates dentists as being at a very high risk of being exposed to Covid-19. Regardless of the immense risks, dentists have low infection rates.
So, parents need not worry that going to the dentist will put them at risk. Dental practices are among the safest places you can go to get health care.
Unfortunately, patients usually face delays in getting access. Since the global health care crisis began, around a quarter of patients have reported experiencing wait times that are longer than the norm.
4% of parents with private dental insurance reported not being able to see a dentist at all. 15% of parents on Medicare reported not being able to get an appointment with a dentist. These parents are typically Black, Latino or multicultural.
The rise in delays is due to a number of factors. The closure of dental practices in March led to a chaos as dentists and their p[atients were unclear as to when dental practices would be reopened. The backlog of patients waiting to go to the dentist rose as the months progressed. When dentists started accepting bookings in April and May, the demand for their services had surged and the dental problems they had to deal with had grown bigger. Children who needed access to dental implant dentists now needed extractions instead of implants. Children who needed preventive dental care were pushed out in favour of children in need of urgent attention. The backlog kept growing. Dentists are still battling with backlogs to this day.