Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on oral hygiene behaviours and access to oral healthcare in a group of adults in Tees Valley

Rachael England, Lawrence Nnyanzi, Vida Zohoori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To recruit a representative sample of adults in Teesside
and investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
UK lockdown on their oral hygiene behaviour and oral
healthcare access in Tees Valley, England.
Ethical approval was gained from the Teesside University
School Research Ethics sub-Committee. A validated
online survey, based on the World Health Organisation
Adult Oral Health Survey, was distributed via social
media in Tees Valley to share through social media
networks. Adults aged ≥18 years were invited to
participate. The questions addressed toothbrushing
and interdental cleaning habits before and during the
lockdown and their experience if they needed to see a
dentist during the lockdown.
This cross-sectional survey received 203 responses
identified as: female (n=177: 87%); of white ethnicity
(n=179: 88%); aged <50years (n=109: 67%); annual
income < £29,999 (n=133: 67%); undergraduate
or postgraduate degree (n=136: 68%). Changes in
oral hygiene behaviours were identified in both
toothbrushing and interdental cleaning frequency.
Across all age groups, daily toothbrushing (≥once)
decreased by 5% and interdental cleaning by 4%. The
age group <30 years showed the most significant
change with 15% reducing their toothbrushing
frequency from twice daily. More than 35% of
participants experienced dental pain during lockdown,
with 10% resorting to do-it-yourself dentistry. A further
21% had tried but were unable to access dental services.
Within its limitations, the findings of this study suggest
that a sustained campaign to improve dental attendance
and support the wider Tees Valley community to
improve oral health must be prioritised. Future
pandemics should be mitigated to avoid the closure of
essential oral health services.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-21
JournalAnnual Clinical Journal of Dental Health
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


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