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Tennessee dentist warns about the toll the pandemic is taking on our teeth

With fewer people going to the dentist, Dr. Mariko McCall walks us through some of the effects the COVID-19 pandemic is having on our teeth.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on people's mental health, their finances and now it's also impacting their teeth.

"The big conception that just because something doesn't hurt doesn't mean I don't need to come in right now," said Dr. Mariko McCall.

Dr. McCall is a dentist at Sequoyah Dental Arts. She has several concerns about the toll the COVID-19 pandemic is taking on our teeth.

"Every day we're seeing tooth infections and issues that patients were completely unaware of," said Dr. McCall.

She said that issues that start simple and can be fixed easily, but many people are not treating their dental issues when they're small problems. Instead, they grow into major concerns.

Spanish Version: Dentista de área Este de Tennessee explica cómo la pandemia ha impactado el cuidado dental 

"We're seeing that cavities are turning into big infections that now need root canals," she said. "We're also seeing more gum infections and worsening gum disease."

Now, the problems are escalating into things that could have long-term and devasting effects.

"If it is left untreated, we do see that it is linked to other health conditions. Some of those are stroke and diabetes and heart attacks," Dr. McCall said.

Avoiding the dentist isn't the only thing having an impact on people's teeth. More people are clenching and grinding due to stress, and it's raising the risk of damage.

McCall said that people simply shouldn't skip the dentist, or else they may risk lasting effects.

"I would encourage patients to come in and get checked because we do find issues that could be painful and affect their life later," said Dr. McCall.