The Pandemic Has Worsened Dental Health
The pandemic has been known to impact physical and mental health but it is also affecting the Mexican population’s oral health, an health issue that has only become more pressing following indirect COVID-19 effects.
Dental cavities and gum problems have shot up across the world during the pandemic due to an increased consumption of carbohydrates and sugary products, as well as the worsening of personal hygiene habits. Furthermore, the constant use of face masks has made several people realize they suffer from halitosis, which is characterized by bad breath.
The American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute found that 30 percent of dentists are now seeing an increase in cavities and periodontal disease, while 69 percent saw an increase in cracked teeth and 76 percent in sore jaws. Mexican odontologists are seeing similar trends.
“Constant stress caused by the fear of uncertainty that we have lived during the pandemic has increased cases of bruxism: the gnashing, tightening and creaking of the teeth subconsciously or consciously, which in time generates a premature wearing of the teeth and pain the face’s muscles,” said Catalina Poblano Lindoro, dental prosthesis specialist
Dental hygiene was a national health issue for Mexico well before the pandemic. According to the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS), nine out of every 10 people in Mexico has dental cavities and other gum diseases such as periodontitis or periodontal disease. Eight of every 10 adults between 50 and 60 years of age only have 10 of their teeth.
A large reason for this data is the lack of consistency with which Mexicans seek professional dental health services. While geographical and transportation factors present an important barrier, making the journey to see a dentist could save patients across the country a fortune by avoiding future procedures.
The cost of seeing an odontologist can range everywhere from MX$200 (US$9.7) for a basic consultation to MX$1,000 (US$48.42) for a first visit with a specialist. These checkups can go a long way in preventing more serious, and more expensive, dental complications. Health experts recommend seeing an odontologist between once a year and once every three months to determine if any dental or gum issues have developed, as often is the case. More serious dental issues, such as cancer, lupus or oral lichen planus can also be identified in their earlier stages to prevent more serious health complications.