Only four out of 10 adults in Canada have seen their dental hygienist since March 2020, according to a national poll of 2,000 respondents conducted by Abacus Data for the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA).
Also, 37% of those who haven’t received dental care said they were deferring all non-essential appointments. Another 32% were hesitant about the safety of professional dental hygiene care during the pandemic.
“These results are concerning, given how important oral health is to overall health and well-being,” said CDHA president Tiffany Ludwicki. “Poor oral health affects our ability to eat, laugh, speak, and smile and is a risk factor for serious health complications such as diabetes, respiratory and heart diseases, and stroke.”
As essential primary healthcare providers, the CDHA said, dental hygienists play a vital role in preventing and detecting oral health problems. They examine the head, neck, and mouth at every dental hygiene appointment, make referrals when necessary, and work with patients to develop individualized and at-home oral care plans.
Of those poll respondents who have seen their dental hygienist since last March, an overwhelming majority (nine in 10) agree they felt safe during their appointments and enjoyed the same level of care or higher.
“Dental and dental hygiene offices implement strict infection prevention and control practices,” said Ludwicki. “Canadians of all ages can rest assured that professional dental hygiene services, even during the pandemic, are extremely safe.”
Dental hygienists are committed to maintaining a healthy clinical environment at all times to protect patients and their families, the CDHA said.