CBS4 Local, discuss the effects of the loosening of mask restrictions on the demand for cosmetic dental procedures. The initial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on dentistry was savage. A study by FAIR Health shows that in 2020, the use of dental services fell by 75% in March and 79% in April, as compared to the same months in 2019. In May, even when many states began to lift the stay-at-home order, the demand for dental services still declined by 27% compared to May 2019. Only in June, did dental services experience a rise in demand, with use rising by a modest 1%. Since then, a combination of easing stay-at-home orders and the importance of Zoom and other video conferencing apps for communications, has resulted in a rise in demand for dental services. Now, as we will discuss in this article, as restrictions on the wearing of masks are eased, dental services are in even greater demand.
For over a year, people have not had to contend with what their peers thought about their smiles. Yet, as mask restrictions are loosened, a record number of people are headed to the dentist to get procedures to improve how their teeth look. CBS4 Local interviewed a periodontist, Dr. Fredrick Pirk, who said that he was struggling to keep up with demand for his services. AT the height of the pandemic, many patients had put off procedures, even at the risk that this would undermine not only their oral health but their overall health. This has created pent up demand for dental services, reflecting broader pent up demand for goods services.
Many people have allowed a range of ailments such as cracked teeth, gum disease and overall dental work, to fester during the pandemic. As mask restrictions are loosened, the need to get dental procedures is at an all-time high. Apart from stay-at-home orders, people were generally skeptical about the safety of going out in public or visiting their dentist, even though dentists have one of the lowest incidence rates of Covid-19 among health care workers in the United States. That skepticism meant that demand was largely pent up for over a year. It also meant that dental issues have grown to a point at which there are now a large now of dental emergencies, dental emergencies which dentists are struggling to cope with.
Another factor giving patients confidence to go out is the success of the vaccine rollout program. Dr. Pirk estimates that 92% of the patients he sees have been vaccinated. As we said above, because so many people have put off dental procedures, a greater proportion of the procedures he is undertaking are emergency procedures. For instance, he reminds people that putting off treating cracked teeth can result in infections deep in the gum line, compounding the initial dental problems as well as the cost of treatment. Dental procedures simply should not be put off, as Drescher & Cohen dentists and other fine dentists will attest. The link between dental health and overall health is largely unknown by the general public, leading to many people underestimating the overall impact of putting off dental procedures.