Lessons from the pandemic: continuity in treatment is important!
PD Dr. Kristina Bertl, PhD MSc MBA
The Covid-19 pandemic has posed and continues to pose major challenges for all of us – this includes our patients and their compliance in terms of attending regular dental check-ups. For example, already during the first few months of the pandemic, patients proved to be far more reluctant to attend medical check-ups and appointments (Makiyama 2020). Now that the pandemic has continued for far longer than initially anticipated, however, it is important for us to encourage our patients to begin attending regular appointments for check-ups and treatment again.
A recently published study from Iwasaki et al (2021) showed what may happen if we fail to do so. This study included around 200 Japanese patients between the ages of approx. 20 and 80 years of age, and looked at ...
- ... how many patients had concerns about attending dental check-ups due to the fear of contracting Covid-19.
- ... what condition their periodontal health was in after almost a year of the pandemic.
- ... whether a lack of continuity in relation to dental visits led to more periodontal problems.
The authors describe the following interesting results in their study:
- Almost a third of those patients who had regularly attended their dental check-ups prior to the pandemic, no longer regularly attended their check-ups during the pandemic.
- The group that no longer regularly attended their dental check-ups due to the pandemic had significantly more concerns about going to the dentist and potentially contracting Covid-19.
- The group that no longer regularly attended their dental check-ups due to the pandemic had significantly more problems with periodontitis and a higher rate of periodontal inflammation.
In short, we must inform, encourage and motivate our patients to attend ...
- ... by reassuring them that dental practices have adapted to the pandemic situation and that they have no need to fear an increased risk of infection.
- ... by advising them that they should start attending regular check-ups again as well as any necessary treatment appointments.
- Iwasaki M, Usui M, Ariyoshi W, et al. Interruption of regular dental visits during the COVID-19 pandemic due to concerns regarding dental visits was associated with periodontitis in Japanese office workers. J Periodont Res. 2021;56:1091–1098. Makiyama K, Kawashima T, Nomura S, et al. Trends in healthcare access in Japan during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, up to June 2020. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18:3271.