Is There an Increased Risk to Patients for Tooth Decay During a Pandemic?

Everyone’s lives have been upended during these crazy times, so it’s reasonable to wonder if dentists are seeing an increase in dental problems like tooth decay.

The world got terrified and every one was forced to stay in their homes and this disrupted their normal lives. So it is understandable that a lot of folks did not go to the dentist for their regularly scheduled appointments every six months last year.

It is even understandable if you missed the whole year and did not see the dentist. Without these important regular checkups, you can be sure that there was an increase in the amount of tooth decay in patients, across the board.

Even if every patient flossed their teeth once a day, which we all know the vast majority of people do not floss regularly, if at all, you still can not remove all the plaque build up that occurs between and on the surface of your teeth.

This is why it’s so important to go to the dentist every six months. Not only can they do a great job flossing your teeth, they can get to all the hard to reach places in your mouth with their sharp dental picks. The dental picks are also very good at scraping off that dental plaque that will build up on your enamel and stubbornly refuse to come off even with the hardest brushing of a tooth brush.

Not only do you have the simple matter of time away from seeing the dentist, you have to consider the stress of the pandemic. Most people were pretty scared. What do you do when you are scared? Well, many people grind their teeth. Many people eat garbage food like lots of carbohydrates and lots of sweets (which are another form of carbs). This food gets in between teeth and does a great job of turning into decay in a very short period of time.

To learn more about how tooth decays starts, it’s symptoms and prevention techniques, be sure to read this article: Tooth decay symptoms & treatments – Illnesses & conditions – from the NHS

You see the bacteria that resides on foods and sugary drinks and starches, blend together and produce an acid. This acid attacks the hard enamel of teeth, which acts as a protective layer, but over time, and even acid attacks, the enamel gives way and starts to break down.

As long as this acid is continually kept at bay, you will be fine, but if you don’t stay on top of it, then decay sets in. The longer that decay sits on your teeth without intervention from professionals like the team at Southpoint Dentistry, the bigger problems you’ll have as the decay grows. The problem with the pandemic, is that it kept people away from the professionals that know how to best treat and prevent tooth decay.

Another peculiarity of the times is the mask situation. Everyone is forced to wear these silly masks. Because people are wearing masks and therefor others can smell their breath, I guarantee you a whole lot of people took this as a sign that they didn’t need to brush their teeth.

Now, I know it sounds crazy but you have to understand that people are lazy and they will get away with what they can get away with. But they can’t get away from themselves and that means a lot of people wearing going around smelling their stinky breath all day, but I digress.

There are even more unusual problems that you must consider about everyone staying at home and working from home, and one is the idea of “sheltering in place”. If you are so afraid that you think that buy staying at home you are “sheltering in place”, then there is a high likelihood that you will find it unnecessary to keep up with your hygiene like regular brushing and flossing.

Again, people are lazy and will get away with whatever they can get away with.

If folks are staying at home, away from friends, family, co-workers, and the pressures of society to keep up with their daily hygiene, they are likely to be lax and skip keeping their teeth clean. Add on top of this the nervousness of these crazy times with most people gaining weight from nervous eating of junk food, lack of going out, and an overall decrease in taking care of ones self, then you can see how there are likely a lot more people fighting with the problems that arise from tooth decay.

So what can you do?

The very first thing you need to do is schedule an appointment to see your dentist today. No more waiting, you need to go get your teeth cleaned by professionals. Even if you stay on top of flossing every day, and there are people that take care of their teeth and gums and floss every day, you still need to go in because the dentist can just do a better job than a patient alone.

Another thing many patients have forgotten about during the pandemic is the importance of x-rays. X-rays are a fantastic tool at spotting tooth decay before it becomes a big deal. X-rays can even spot weakness or softness on a tooth, that can turn into tooth decay over time. And the only way you can get an x-ray is to go to the dentist.

The entire purpose of dental hygiene is to constantly remove the build up of bacteria causing plaque. Over time, the build up of plaque on your teeth can transform in to tartar. Tartar is a hard calcified buildup on your teeth’s enamel that will not come off with simply brushing your teeth.

The plaque and tartar attack the enamel of your teeth and one they breakdown the enamel, they next start to breakdown the dentin. Dentin is the soft tissue that is protected by the enamel.  Dentin is not nearly as strong as the enamel, so once plaque has access to dentin, your tooth decay accelerates.

Once the plaque penetrates the dentin, it can damage the pulp of your tooth.  The pulp of your tooth is where the nerves and blood vessels that bring nutrients and life to your tooth reside.  Once your pulp gets infected with plaque, you will begin to experience pain.

And this is what the whole idea of dental hygiene and regular visits to the dentist is aimed at preventing, pain.   The reason is because no one likes to be in pain obviously, but also, once you have reached the level of experiencing tooth pain a lot of damage has already been done to your teeth.

It is much harder and painful to fix damage than it is to prevent it in the first place.  There is a reason that saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.”, exists.  The pandemic is over, everything is fine.  It’s time to start taking care of yourself and high time you go to the dentist!