Covid stress causes one in five Irish people to spend less time on teeth

IDHA President Linda Phelan (left) and Dr Catherine Waldron celebrate World Oral Health Day.

Covid-19 has impacted on Irish people’s oral health, with pandemic-related stress causing one-fifth of people (20%) to devote less time to their teeth.
The Wrigley Oral Healthcare Programme Mind Your Mouth! survey, commissioned by Mars Wrigley in partnership with the Irish Dental Hygienists’ Association (IDHA), was published recently to coincide with World Oral Health Day on March 20. The research among 1,000 people in Ireland across age, gender, region and socio-economic groupings provided unique insights into the impact of Covid-19 on the nation’s oral health and oral health habits.
Some 20% of respondents said Covid-19-related stress meant they were brushing and flossing less, and almost one-third (30%) said they were experiencing teeth clenching and grinding since the pandemic began. Of those who were grinding and clenching their teeth, 60% attributed this to Covid-related stress.
Conversely, 38% of people surveyed said that Covid-19 saw them change their oral health habits for the better, with 15% flossing more and almost one-quarter (23%) brushing more. Some 19% said the reason that they changed their oral health habits was because they had more free time.
The survey also shows that more broadly, there are very high awareness levels across age groups on how to maintain good oral health – 76% of respondents said they are aware of the role that regular flossing and chewing sugar-free gum plays in supporting oral health. Similarly, almost half (44%) agree that there is a link between chewing sugar-free gum and good oral health.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Catherine Waldron, postdoctoral oral health researcher, said: “The fact that some people are spending more time brushing and flossing is to be welcomed, as are the very high awareness levels of the benefits of brushing, flossing and chewing sugar-free gum to support good oral health. However, the Wrigley survey also shines a light on the impact of pandemic-related stress on our nation’s oral health. The message is clear: even during the pandemic, people should visit their dental hygienist and, in between appointments, brush, floss and chew sugar-free gum regularly to maintain good oral health”.