Authors : Emily Gao , Durham Academy: 3601 Ridge Road, Durham, NC 27705
Matthew Lu , Chapel Hill High School: 9217 Seawell School Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27516
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused global lockdowns and social distancing, which have greatly changed people’s life styles and overall health. We are interested to explore how this has affected adolescences’ dental health. Our study used an online survey for US students aged 10-18 to examine the pandemic’s impacts on eating habits, dental homecare, and dental visits. Wilcoxon two-sample and Chi-square tests were performed to compare the variables between students who kept routine dental checkups during the pandemic with those who did not. Using a logistic regression model, we also explored whether fear level of COIVD-19 and family cultural background associate with dental visit decisions. We found that 54.7% of respondents have increased snack consumption due to the pandemic. About 19.1% have increased supplemental intake. Among all supplements, the major form was gummy (60.4%). For dental homecare, 21.0% reported less seriousness, and 64.7% reported the same level of seriousness. Routine dental visits during the pandemic have decreased. Students with greater fear levels and non-US cultural backgrounds tended not to visit the dentist during the pandemic compared to students with lower fear levels and US cultural backgrounds (Ps < 0.01). Our results suggest that the pandemic has had an overall negative impact on the dental health of US students, associated with increased fear levels and a non-US cultural background. Dental care providers should be more proactive in providing dental health education and consider cultural backgrounds. Mental health counseling may also be helpful to maintain dental visits by minimizing fear levels.