During the COVID pandemic, millions of people have seen their health appointments cancelled. While media focus has understandably been placed upon the effect the lockdown has had on cancer patients, other sectors are also experiencing huge backlogs.
The number of missed check-ups in the dental field is also starting to have serious repercussions. With many dentists claiming they will be unable to catch up until 2021, this could mean an onslaught of tooth decay in children is set to come.
Here, we’ll look at the current situation dentists are facing and the potential issues that could arise.
Why are so many children missing their dental appointments?
There are a couple of reasons why so many children have been missing their dental appointments. Firstly, the lockdown caused dental surgeries to close for months, which meant nobody could attend their regular check-ups. The British Dental Association estimates that there is a 10 million appointment backlog caused by the industry shutdown earlier this year. While emergency work has still been carried out, regular check-ups for all ages have had to be delayed.
Now that practices are re-opening, dentists are finding it difficult to catch up on the significant backlog. With fewer staff working in clinics to maintain social distancing, and treatments taking more time due to stringent cleaning measures, catching up on appointments is a difficult task.
Even now that the lockdown has been mostly lifted, parents are still reluctant to take their children to the dentist until the pandemic has eased. So, there are a few factors affecting the rate of missed appointments. The question is, what could this be doing to our children’s oral health?
The worry over minor issues
The main concern is that children with minor oral health issues aren’t getting the treatment they need. With so many problems being missed, they could eventually lead to more serious complications.
In some cases, children could end up with irreparable damage to their teeth. Fillings could worsen, while gum disease could be left to cause havoc over the coming months. So, while they may not have any serious dental issues right now, it is likely we will see a surge in appointments next year which could have been prevented.
The dental sector is facing huge challenges right now. With months of no income, many dental practices are facing the threat of closure. This would leave thousands of patients without a dentist at all.
Parents are urged to take extra care of their children’s teeth while they await their routine appointments. Making sure they brush twice a day, choosing the right toothpaste and brush, and cutting down on sugary foods will all help to prevent tooth decay.
Overall, the backlog of routine appointments is causing huge concern, with dentists struggling to keep up. The effect it is having on our children’s oral health needs to be addressed, particularly if there are talks of another national lockdown.