How Covid has Changed the State of Oral Health in Canada

Health Canada took a deep dive into Canadian dental health in 2010, using data provided by the Canadian Health Measures Survey from Statistics Canada. Results were positive at the time, showing that 75% of Canadians visited a dental clinic annually and 86% did so at least every two years. It proved a significant increase from the Canadian population of the 1970s, in which only half saw a dentist annually. Those good practices of getting early and preventative care extended to overall oral health, and meant that Canadians collectively saw incredible decreases in dental decay over the last four decades.

Findings from Health Canada’s report showed that children with at least one decayed tooth dropped from 74% to just under 24%, while adolescents saw a decrease from 96.6% to 58%. With that marked increase in dental health, there was also an increase in the percentage of the Canadian population that was seeing a dentist yearly – from 49.5% to 74.5%.

Findings were overall positive and suggested that Canadians had good levels of oral health. Part of this was due to higher access to dental care, sometimes with Canadian dentists themselves filling the gap in care by volunteering or lowering rates for low income people. Philanthropy in the Canadian dentistry and orthodontics industries is prominent to the benefit of many Canadians that need care, considering 32% of Canadians have no dental insurance. Also, the majority of Canadians have good daily oral health practices like brushing and flossing.

This progress bodes well for  Canadian students, workers and the overall economy. Still, even with improvements, the 2010 study showed that 2.26 million school days and 4.15 million work days are missed due to dental visits or dental sick days.

Now, in light of the pandemic and the temporary closure of dental clinics to anything other than emergencies, there is concern that there may be a backslide.

The theory and concern is that people holed-up, ate sugary and unhealthy foods, became lazy about dental hygiene since they were not leaving their homes and worldwide oral health is about to reach crisis level.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of many, and has likely also interrupted good health habits and daily oral health care routines,” according to the Canadian Dental Association. “More frequent snacking, consuming more sugary foods and beverages, and not keeping up with regular brushing and flossing are all examples. These habits, combined with delaying visiting the dentist can have negative impacts on your oral and overall health.”

Oral health is a required practice for overall health. So if any dental issues have surfaced it is best to make an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible. If in the Ottawa area, you should consider an Ottawa downtown dentist.

Regular visits and good oral hygiene habits at home will help safeguard your oral health, which will benefit your overall health.

Oral health tips from the Canadian Dental Association include:

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