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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 99-114

Assessment of oral health problems, dietary, and lifestyle changes among pediatric dental patients during the COVID 19 pandemic – A cross sectional pilot study

Department of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, University College of Medical Sciences, Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital (University of Delhi), New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Namita Kalra
Department of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, University College of Medical Sciences and Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, New Delhi - 110 095
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/sjoralsci.sjoralsci_1_22

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Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the routine lives of people worldwide because of lockdowns/restrictions. Children have been largely confined to home due to the suspension of schools, which may lead to potential behavioral changes. Routine dental services have been nonfunctional, and oral health problems have been frequently neglected. Aims: The present study aimed to assess oral health problems, dietary, and lifestyle changes among pediatric dental patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Materials and Methods: This is a cross-sectional study that employed a structured 38-item questionnaire through teledentistry to 121 children who previously visited the dental department of a tertiary hospital in Delhi. The Dental Problems and Treatment Needs (DPTN-COVID-19) Questionnaire and Dietary Habits Lifestyle Changes (DHLC-COVID19) Questionnaire, customized and validated for the study, were administered for the assessment of oral needs of children and how they were managed during the pandemic. We also evaluated their dietary/lifestyle changes. Results and Discussion: Participants were interviewed telephonically; as a general trend, oral health was observed to be significantly affected among children. A majority of the children (83.47%) suffered from toothache, 34.71% had tooth-related swelling, and 18.1% experienced dental trauma. More than half of the parents of the participants (54.5%) preferred the management of dental problems with self-medication. Oral hygiene of the children was affected primarily due to decreased brushing frequency during the COVID-19 pandemic (43.8%). A considerable proportion of parents (44.6%) believed that the COVID-19 infection could spread by dental treatment and perceived the dental environment to be more dangerous than other places. A significant number of parents (59.5%) observed the changes in their children's dietary habits, with a drastic reduction in the consumption of high-carbohydrate snacks in children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many parents (67.8%) observed a change in their children's hunger and satiety levels during the COVID-19 lockdown, with decreased appetite in 38.8% of the children. Moreover, a significant increase in screen time and changes in sleeping patterns was also observed during the pandemic. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was found to be significant predictors for brushing frequency, carbohydrates intake, and lifestyle changes before and during COVID-19. It was a good fit as analyzed on Pearson goodness-of-fit Chi-square test. The likelihood ratio of during COVID-19 model was statistically significant. The model was able to explain variance in the outcome measure before and during COVID-19, respectively, as analyzed on Nagelkerke pseudo R2. Conclusion: In the present pandemic situation, amid the burden of increased biological and financial needs, oral health needs of children may have been neglected. This has been accompanied by associated dietary and lifestyle changes, leading to a vicious cycle demonstrating a need for appropriate strategies to address the issue.

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