COVID-19 halted many dentist trips, but adverse effects can be reversed

A woman receiving dental care.
Photo credit Phoenixns/Getty Images
By , KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The COVID-19 pandemic kept many people from making routine dental appointments. That has resulted in an explosion of dental problems and periodontal appointments.

Dr. Stephen Brown is a nationally known periodontist who practices in Center City with the Perio Group. He said the lockdown and subsequent stress of the pandemic created numerous problems for people, with many of them directly related to stress.

“Tooth grinding and wear of the teeth, cracked teeth, chipped teeth, jaw joint dysfunction from clenching," said Dr. Brown.

"A lot of this was from tension-related jaw joint pain, and also an increase in periodontal disease and periodontal abscesses.”

In addition, Brown said there is a new disorder directly related to wearing masks for long periods of time.

It's called mask bad breath.

“Those bacteria that cause periodontal disease are known to produce gases, and those gases are a little bit like swamp gas, so to speak," said Dr. Brown.

"When you're wearing a mask and that's held in, and you don't have as much exposure to the outside air, it is very common for people to have an increase in periodontal disease, which in turn leads to an increase in the bacteria that cause periodontal disease, which produce these gases that produce bad breath.“

Dr. Brown said his office was closed for three months. Even after reopening, many patients were reluctant to return because of COVID-19 fears.

They waited for months before they resumed their regular appointments.

“There was an increase in the amount of periodontal disease and a decrease in the quality of oral hygiene, and consequently there were many more dental problems," Dr. Brown explained.

"Coupled with that though, was the fact that there has been an enormous loss of dental insurance because of people losing jobs.”

But despite all these issues caused by a lapse in good dental hygiene, Brown said all of them can be remedied.

“It is not too late by any stretch of the imagination for most people," said Dr. Brown.

"Is it possible that certain teeth can't be saved for one reason or another? Yes, but the vast majority of dental disease can be reversed.”

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