Postponed Dental Visits during the COVID-19 Pandemic and their Correlates. Evidence from the Nationally Representative COVID-19 Snapshot Monitoring in Germany (COSMO)

Healthcare (Basel). 2021 Jan 5;9(1):50. doi: 10.3390/healthcare9010050.


(1) Background: The COVID-19 pandemic is accompanied by various societal and economic challenges. Furthermore, it is associated with major health challenges. Oral health is a key component of health. Therefore, both curative and preventive dental visits are important during pandemics. Since there is a lack of nationally representative studies focusing on postponed dental visits and their correlates during the COVID-19 pandemic, we aimed to fill this gap in knowledge; (2) Methods: Cross-sectional data (wave 17) were collected from a nationally representative online-survey (COVID-19 Snapshot Monitoring in Germany (COSMO)) conducted in July 2020. The analytical sample consisted of 974 individuals (average age was 45.9 years (SD: 16.5, from 18 to 74 years)). The outcome measure was postponed dental visits since March 2020 (yes; no) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the type of postponed dental visits was recorded (check-up/regular dental examination; pain/dental complaints; planned therapy); (3) Results: 22% of participants reported to have postponed dental visits due to the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020, whereas 78% of individuals did not report postponed visits ("no, attended as planned": 29.2%; "no, examining pending": 44.9%; "no, other reasons": 3.9%). Among individuals who reported postponed dental visits, 72% postponed a "check-up/regular dental examination", whereas 8.4% postponed a dental visit despite "pain/dental complaints" and 19.6% postponed "planned therapy". Furthermore, multiple logistic regressions showed that the likelihood of postponed dental visits was positively associated with being younger (aged 65 and older, OR: 0.43, 95% CI: 0.22-0.85; compared to individuals 18 to 29 years), and higher affect regarding COVID-19 (OR: 1.36, 95% CI: 1.13-1.64); (4) Conclusions: Our study showed that more than one out of five individuals postponed a dental visit-particularly check-ups and regular dental examination-due to the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020. Several correlates of these postponed visits have been identified. This may help identify and address individuals at risk for deterioration of oral health amplified by postponed dental visits.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; check-up; coronavirus; dental care; dental complaints; dental examination; dental health services; dental service use; dental visits; oral health; pain; postponed dental visits.