The impact of COVID-19 lockdown on maintenance of children's dental health: A questionnaire-based survey

Maya Gotler, Liat Oren, Shoshanna Spierer, Noam Yarom, Malka Ashkenazi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has been associated with several changes in maintenance of children's dental health. The aim of this study was to evaluate the extent of these changes. Methods: Parents were asked to respond anonymously to a questionnaire regarding alterations in their children's oral habits, such as frequency of eating and drinking, toothbrushing, signs of stress, and receiving oral health care during the lockdown period. The participants were reached either during their visit to the clinics or via the social media groups of the authors. Results: There were 308 parents of children aged 1 through 18 years who responded to the questionnaires. The authors found associations between increased frequency of eating and drinking, decreased frequency of toothbrushing, and postponing oral health care. Among the children, 11% experienced more frequent oral signs of stress, such as temporomandibular disorder and aphthous stomatitis, during the lockdown. Although children from all age groups ate and drank more frequently between meals, younger children received a diagnosis of carious lesions more often during the lockdown (P = .015). Conclusions: During the lockdown, many children changed their eating, drinking, and toothbrushing habits and, thus, increased their risk of developing caries. Practical Implications: During pandemic-associated re-care visits or recall visits, it is imperative to conduct a detailed interview regarding changes in oral health habits. In children at high risk, dentists recommended more diagnostic and preventive measures to prevent deterioration of their oral health. Moreover, dentists should put more emphasis on motivational interviewing to help children resume healthier routines after the lockdown.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-449
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Dental Association
Volume153
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2022

Keywords

  • caries
  • dental
  • eating habits
  • periodic dental examination
  • Toothbrushing
  • treatment

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