“For the past two years, I was chewing only from one side and experiencing bleeding gums as well. But the fear of the virus stopped me from visiting a dentist even after they were allowed to reopen,” said Gowda, a diabetic. He finally stepped into a dentist’s clinic in May 2022.
His dental health having deteriorated, Gowda was forced to undergo the procedure again for the same tooth. “There is a lot of demand, which made it difficult for me to get an appointment with my dentist. I have four more sessions and it is difficult to keep up with the appointments as I have also st arted working from office,” the Vasanthnagar resident told STOI.
Gowda’s case is an example of how in the post-Covid world, the dental health industry is coping with increase in compla ints. While dentists are seeing a 30-40% spike in footfall at their clinics, patients are finding it tough to get appointments.
Dr Venkatesh Garla of Smylife Dental Clinic on Sarjapur Road s aid a lot of people haven’t visited dentists in a long time because of the Covid situation and are forced to do so now with advanced stages of dental problems with unbearable pain . “Most early stages of dental problems require disease control and if these measures aren’t taken, solutions in advanced stages are elaborate and expensive,” said D r Garla, adding that major problems in kids are growth-related.
“Such growth-related problems are best treated before or during the pubertal growth spurt. Because of Covid conditions, pare nts don’t bring their children to the orthodontist and the most important treatment time is missed. Therefore, children are getting deprived of ideal treatment option s,” he said. Dr Saakshi Hinduja, consultant, aesthetic dentistry, Aster CMI Hospital, said teeth which could have been treated with simple dental procedures now require root canals, extractio ns and implants and more extensive management. “The waiting period (for appointments) could be anywhere between three days and a week,” said Dr Hinduja, who is now seeing double the number of patients every week.
Dr Balasubramanya KV, HOD & senior consultant, periodontics, Sakra World Hospital, said they have observed a 20-30% spike in patient footfall. “Gum infection and caries in patients have increased as they were not able to visit dentists on a regular basis,” he said, adding that post-pandemic patients are coming with aggressive stages of dental diseases.
The pandemic has also made people more aware about maintaining good health, said Dr Rahul Reddy, head, clinical operation and excellence, Apollo. “The most common problems we saw were sensitivity and food being lodged in upper and lower posterior teeth,” said Dr Reddy, adding that 77% of patients in the 17-34 age group needed restorative care. In the 45-64 age grou p, 95. 8% required periodontal, 90. 9% prosthetic and 13. 3% surgical care, he said.
The situation in tier-II cities of the state is similar. Dr Ramachandra Alnavar, MDS, a Hubballi-based orthodontist, said they are also flooded with patients from neighbouring villages. “Patients tend to overuse other teeth instead of the one with pain. This overuse tends to damage other teeth,” he said.