There are early indications that the pandemic is taking a serious, and potentially long-lasting, toll on our oral health. In September, even before the winter coronavirus surge in the United States, an American Dental Association survey found that more than half of the dentists who responded were seeing an increase in stress-related conditions among patients. These included teeth grinding, cracked and chipped teeth and symptoms of temporomandibular joint dysfunction, like jaw pain. More than a quarter of the dentists reported an increase in cavities and gum disease — quite likely a result of changes in people’s diets and hygiene. Americans have also had difficulty accessing dental care: A report last month by the CareQuest Institute for Oral Health, a nonprofit research and advocacy group, found that six million adults had lost their dental insurance because of the pandemic, and more than one in 10 had delayed getting care because of cost, lack of insurance, fear of exposure to the virus or a combination of those factors.
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