With residents postponing visits to the dentist, experts at LIBERTY Dental Plan offer advice for dental care during the pandemic
A new survey finds that more than half of Florida residents say they’ve delayed dental care for themselves or their family because of COVID-19.
The percentage of Floridians who delayed dental care during the prolonged shutdown because of COVID-19 (56%) was a higher portion than the 50% who said they delayed medical care, the survey commissioned by LIBERTY Dental Plan of Florida found.
“If you’re not going to the dentist because of the pandemic, then you need to practice good dental care at home,” said Dr. Rosie Roldan, Vice President of Florida Provider Relations, Dental Wellness and Clinical Affairs; and Florida Dental Director of LIBERTY. “Keeping your teeth clean and gums healthy now can prevent tooth loss or painful and costly problems later.”
That’s why LIBERTY experts are offering at-home tips for oral health recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Dental Association:
- Brush teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste to help prevent tooth decay.
- Drink tap water that contains fluoride.
- Eat a healthy diet and reduce the amount of sugary beverages and snacks.
- Use an anti-cavity rinse. A mouth rinse with proven antimicrobial activity can be helpful, especially for patients with increased risk of gum disease. Even the youngest children can use bubble-gum flavored anti-cavity rinses after meals to help sweep away food and bacteria.
- Floss daily to clean between teeth.
- If stress during these uncertain times is causing you to grind your teeth, consider wearing a mouth guard.
The survey, which polled 1,000 residents in September, found the portion of those who delayed dental care during the pandemic was greater among women (60%) and residents living in Northeast Florida (61%) and Southwest Florida (60%). Among the survey’s other findings:
- A majority of Floridians, or about 70%, say they have some type of dental insurance.
- Dental coverage is least common among Floridians 55 and older (62%).
- By region, Southwest Florida has the greatest portion of residents, or 46%, without dental insurance. This is likely due to the higher average age in Southwest Florida, correlating to the finding that older residents are less likely to have dental coverage.
With fewer people going to the dentist nationwide, experts are concerned that oral health problems will rise. These include untreated tooth decay, gum disease, tooth loss, oral cancer and chronic diseases.
“With the COVID-19 crisis delaying regular dental visits, it’s absolutely critical to take care of your teeth,” Dr. Roldan said. “There’s no substitute for good oral hygiene and it starts in your home.”
About the survey
The survey that yielded these results was conducted online by Sachs Media, interviewing 1,000 Floridians on Sept. 1-3, 2020. The survey’s margin of error was +/- 3.2% and the results are representative of Florida voters in terms of age, race, gender, political affiliation, and region of state.