Frequent snacking and fewer dental visits, among other behavioral changes adopted due to COVID-19 measures could lead to a variety of oral health problems, a survey reveals.
A multi-country online survey by GSK Consumer Healthcare and IPSOS, with 4,500 respondents including individuals from the Philippines, has found that the shift in consumer behavior over the pandemic increased consumer susceptibility to worsened overall oral health.
Lockdown measures saw many Filipinos spend more time at home, as a result, the survey observes a change in consumer habits and routines that may have affected their overall oral health.
Compared to before the pandemic, 29 percent of Philippine consumers claimed to have increased their consumption of snacks: 35 percent in coffee or tea, 17 percent in frozen treats and packaged fruit juice, and 14 percent in soft drinks. Increased consumption of these types of food and beverages, GSK says, has a pronounced effect on oral health, especially in the accelerated wear on tooth enamel that cannot be restored naturally by the body.
As it stands, Filipinos are already suffering from oral health conditions that can be worsened by the consumption of the aforementioned items; 77 percent indicated that they suffer from sensitive teeth, 42 percent indicated having stained/yellow teeth, and 34 percent indicated having cavities.
While majority or 95 percent of respondents from the Philippines claimed to believe that good oral healthcare can benefit their overall health, the survey has discovered they are not doing enough to maintain or improve it.
When consumers who claim to experience at least one oral health condition were polled on how they were actively managing it, 51 percent said they have turned to brushing their teeth regularly—highlighting the lack of specific, more targeted strategies to managing their oral health.
Further, only 11 percent of Philippine consumers who suffer from at least one oral health condition visit the dentist regularly for checkups, as 70 percent are worried about the possibility of COVID-19 transmission in face-to-face consultations.
More than half or 56 percent of Filipinos admitted to have reduced or stopped their visits to the dentist; reasons include fear of contact with other dental patients (53 percent), fear of contracting COVID-19 from dental equipment (65 percent), and concerns on dental clinic’s cleanliness and sanitation (48 percent).
Consumers in the Philippines have instead enhanced their oral care practices. About one in two Philippine consumers (55 percent) claimed to brush their teeth more frequently over the pandemic, 46 percent indicated having increased the use of mouthwash, and 38 percent claimed they will buy more specialized products such as toothpaste for gum care in the coming weeks compared to their usual purchase pattern.
“Despite the changes in daily living brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is certainly encouraging to see widespread awareness of the connection between good oral health and overall health among Filipinos,” said Dr. Leo Gerald R. De Castro, managing partner at the Asian Centre for Dental Specialties.
He added, “Filipinos need to take comprehensive measures in terms of maintaining their oral health. Self-management practices with the use of specialized products, avoiding sugary food and drinks, and consulting a dentist form a holistic approach to oral care that Filipinos across the country can benefit from in the long term.”
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