Preparation for post-pandemic oral rehabilitation

28 April 2021
3 min read

A look at the need to be proactive in managing the changing needs of patients.

With the huge disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we can anticipate that demand for implants will rise considerably as society starts to return to a semblance of normality.

Many patients have seen treatments and check-ups unavoidably delayed, providing significant time for problems to develop and worsen. Many have expressed that they are struggling to access even urgent care, with a few resorting to dangerous DIY attempts.

While we might hope that simply maintaining one’s oral health should be motive enough to regularly brush, many people appear to be more motivated by the social ramifications of bad breath and how they appear to others. In the past, this motivation was largely irrelevant as long as it kept patients to a regular oral hygiene routine. However, with huge numbers of people self-isolating or working from home, and masks being worn outside, the social pressure to maintain hygiene and appearance has been largely removed. For patients who are not very self-motivated by oral health alone, this has predictably led to a decline in adequate hygiene – with a fifth of people admitting they are not even brushing their teeth twice a day.

The pandemic has also deeply affected many people’s diets and mental health. While we will probably not gain a complete picture for many years, early research and self-reporting indicates that people’s responses and circumstances have varied considerably, some have eaten less and managed to exercise more, others the inverse, still others a mixture. Many have found themselves snacking and stress eating, which could adversely affect their teeth; while those already at risk of, or struggling with, eating disorders are particularly at risk and have seen reduced access to help. There have also been substantial disruptions to the food supply chain during the past year, as well as financial challenges that have meant many people facing dietary disruptions irrespective of their emotional wellbeing.

On the brighter side, following the closest equivalent to our current situation – the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19 – society bounced back to the so-called “Roaring Twenties”. While obviously there are many differences between our time and a century ago, there are parallels. Part of the boom seen during the 1920s was driven by deferred spending, people held off on non-essentials during the pandemic and then opened their wallets when things improved. Moreover, people were eager to start socialising again and did so more intensely and flamboyantly than before. While no one can say for sure what the future will bring, anecdotally the public seem to be chomping at the bit to socialise, party and go on holiday. Coach and tour operators have already reported a massive upsurge in bookings from older people attempting to arrange holidays as soon as they have been inoculated, with TUI claiming over half of their bookings are currently for the over-50s, and National Express reporting that bookings among the over-65s are up 185 per cent when compared to the same time before the pandemic.

This intensified desire to socialise and a willingness to spend more than usual after months of financial uncertainty and restraint, combined with likely worsened oral conditions, create almost a perfect storm to drive demand for rehabilitation via oral implant dentistry. As things “return to normal”, we should expect to see rebound effects among the populace, not just life resuming exactly as before.

Prior to the pandemic, demand for dental implants had already been growing consistently. As we have seen, there is good reason to believe that demand is likely to further intensify in the near future, with some clinicians already seeing an upturn in demand. All of this makes now an excellent time for forward-thinking practitioners to develop the skills and qualifications to ride that wave to its fullest.

Ucer Education, led by specialist oral surgeon Professor Cemal Ucer, is at the very forefront of postgraduate education in implantology. For over a quarter of a century, Ucer Education has taught thousands of satisfied dentists in the art of implantology, from treatment planning to post-operative care, as well as many other facets of dentistry. Continually locking step with the latest developments in the field, Ucer Education’s postgraduate certificate (PGCert) in implant dentistry (EduQual Level 7) is an excellent opportunity for clinicians looking to advance their knowledge and skills. The course represents outstanding value for money, providing training in treatment planning, restorative and surgical skills. The next course begins in May 2021, so be sure to secure your place as soon as you can.

The impact of the pandemic will be felt for many years. Where possible, practitioners would do well to be proactive in anticipating changing patient needs as we find a new normal ­– together we can thrive.