Teledentistry may take care of unmet dental care due to COVID-19 pandemic
Researchers have recently observed that unmet child dental care was more common in households where a pandemic-related job or income loss occurred, as published in The Journal of the American Dental Association.
The degree to which children experience the unmet need for dental care during the COVID-19 pandemic, and its association with a pandemic-related household job or income loss is unknown.
Hence, Jacqueline M. Burgette and colleagues from the Departments of Dental Public Health and Pediatric Dentistry, School of Dental Medicine, University of Pittsburgh; and Research Fellow, Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina, USA conducted the present study to understand the association between income loss during the COVID-19 Pandemic and children's dental care.
The authors performed a cross-sectional household survey of 348 families in Pittsburgh, PA. Unmet need for child dental care and pandemic-related household job or income loss was assessed using caregiver self-report.
The following results were observed-
- The greatest unmet child health care need during the COVID-19 pandemic was dental care (16%) followed by medical care for a good visit or vaccination (5%).
- Approximately 40% of caregivers reported job loss or a decrease in household income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- There is a significant association between the probability of unmet child dental care and pandemic-related household job or income loss (P=.022).
- Losing a job or experiencing a decrease in income due to the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with unmet child dental care (Relative Risk, 1.77; 95% confidence interval, 1.08 to 2.88).
Hence, the authors concluded that "three times as many households reported unmet dental care for a child compared to unmet medical care. Unmet child dental care was more common in households where a pandemic-related job or income loss occurred."
If unmet dental care continues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, non-traditional strategies for delivering dental care can be considered to improve access to dental care for children, such as teledentistry and oral health prevention services in primary care settings, they further added.