RICHMOND, Va. According to the latest report from the Health Policy Institute at the American Dental Association, 83% of Virginia dental practices are back to normal patient volumes.
The data is a positive indicator for Virginians as national reports point to the pandemic’s negative impact on the oral health.
A Health Policy Institute survey released in March revealed that more than 70% of dentists nationwide saw an increase of patients experiencing teeth grinding and clenching, conditions often associated with stress. The survey also found that just more than 60% of dentists reported an increase in other stress-related dental conditions, including chipped and cracked teeth and TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder) symptoms such as headaches and jaw pain.
In another survey last fall, more than a quarter of dentists reported increases in cavities and periodontal disease.
“We know that our oral health affects our overall health and delaying oral health care can have big consequences,” said Dr. Frank Iuorno, Jr. president of the Virginia Dental Association. “Dental care is essential health care. Regular dental visits are critical to receive treatment or help prevent dental disease, which leads to healthier lives. If a patient has delayed their routine dental check-ups, it’s important they get back into that routine.”
Research has shown that poor oral health and untreated periodontal disease can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. In addition, periodontal disease and inflamed gums can make it harder for diabetics to control their blood-sugar levels.
Virginia dental offices are open and safe
Virginia Dental Association members always have been at the forefront of infection control, and they have implemented new measures to keep patients, dentists and team members safe.
The organization collaborated with the American Dental Association, Virginia Department of Health, the CDC and the Virginia Dental Hygienists’ Association to establish a comprehensive guide for treating patients.
A study published in The Journal of the American Dental Association found the cumulative COVID-19 infection prevalence rate among U.S. dentists was 2.6% as of November 2020 — lower than the infection rate of other front-line health care professionals, including nurses and physicians, according to a study from the American Dental Association Science & Research Institute and Health Policy Institute.
Patients can find nearby dentists at findadentist.ada.org.