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4 Trends Showing People are Heading Back to the Dentist

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(Family Features) In the wake of the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are becoming more comfortable getting back in the dental exam chair. More patients are addressing oral aches and pains caused by pandemic-induced stress and prioritizing their pearly whites as masks are shed and visible smiles emerge.

As people head back to the dentist, some for the first time in years, Zocdoc, a free platform where people can find and book in-person or virtual health care appointments across more than 200 specialties and over 12,000 insurance plans, completed a comprehensive analysis of dental-related appointment booking trends over the last year to examine how people are engaging with dentists and other oral specialists.

The analysis, “Zocdoc Reports: Dental Download,” found appointments are on the rise across the board, suggesting people are addressing oral aches and pains, many caused by pandemic-induced stress, and identified these trends:

Routine Dental Visits are Back
At the onset of the pandemic, nearly half of adults in the United States put off dental care, and professional dental services fell by more than 75%, according to research published in “JDR Clinical & Translational Research.” However, data shows people are catching up on those missed appointments with some using the lapse in appointments or geographic moves to find new providers. Between August 2021-August 2022, dentist appointments increased by 10% while new patient dental exam appointments increased by 18%.

Dental Damage Control is Underway
Putting off routine care during the pandemic resulted in serious dental issues for some patients. Root canals are necessary when cavities go untreated for too long, among other reasons, and these appointments are on the rise, along with other dental surgery appointments. Root canal appointments increased by 20% and wisdom tooth appointments increased by 17% year-over-year.

Stress is Impacting Minds and Mouths
Studies indicate stress levels have intensified over the last two years, and this stress has taken a toll not just on mental health but also people’s mouths. Stress is a leading cause and risk factor for bruxism (teeth grinding or clenching), according to the Mayo Clinic, and cracked tooth repair appointments increased by 43% between August 2021-August 2022. During the same timeframe, TMJ pain appointments increased by 33%, dental pain appointments increased by 32% and gum disease, gingivitis and bleeding gums appointments increased by 22%.

People are Prioritizing Their Pearly Whites
With everyone’s pearly whites again front and center, there’s a renewed interest in making sure they’re looking their best. Cosmetic dental appointments surged during the research period with orthodontic appointments up 32%, dental implant appointments up 17% and broken tooth appointments up 16%.

For more information and to view the full data analysis, visit zocdoc.com.

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