In this journal article, researchers from CareQuest Institute and the Harvard School of Dental Medicine examine the impact of COVID-19 on dental care use and oral health conditions among more than 430,000 patients at Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in 2019 and 2020. Because FQHCs serve more than 28 million patients who are publicly insured or uninsured, live in poverty, or in rural areas, they provide a critical window into the needs of vulnerable populations.
COVID-19 Effects on Oral Health
Researchers found the impact of COVID-19 was more pronounced on dental visits than medical visits. In April 2020, for example, dental care utilization decreased by nearly 81% compared to 2019 and rebounded more slowly than medical utilization.
They also observed a greater demand for oral surgery and teledentistry and less demand for preventive services. As a result of COVID-19, patients received more invasive dental procedures due to delayed treatment and experienced a higher risk of psychological stress-related dental conditions, such as tooth grinding, cracked teeth, and endodontic conditions.
The authors encouraged “continued support for statewide policies to expand access to oral health care and oral health promotion strategies for vulnerable populations.”
Read the article in JDR Clinical & Translation Research (subscription required)
You may also be interested in:
- Teledentistry and Community Learning Help Kids Get Care in North Carolina, a blog post that shares how an FQHC in North Carolina is using teledentistry and a mobile dental unit to increase access to care for kids in a rural community.
- The Importance of Being Ready: Lessons from Medicaid and Commercial Dental Claims Data, a visual report that examines dental procedure utilization during COVID-19, comparing Medicaid and commercial insurance claims.
- Value-Based Care: The Federally Qualified Health Center Story, a white paper, developed in collaboration with the National Association of Community Health Centers, that discusses how FQHCs can lead the transformation into a value-based system.