Why, you ask? Well, folks, the answer is simple. The whole dang thing was a mystery, a disease that seemed to fancy the oral and nasal routes more than any others. This put anyone daring to poke around an infected patient's mouth - dentists included - at a helluva risk.

So what happened? Folks just up and stopped visiting the dentist. Practices boarded up their doors, some for weeks, others for months. Some never even got the chance to flip that sign back to "Open". And when they did manage to crawl back to a semblance of "normal", it was more stop-and-start than a rookie learning stick shift. Everyone was askin': Is it safe to leave the house? Is it okay to remove a mask and breathe right into someone else's face? Even when the vaccine started soothing folks' nerves, it still took a spell for things to level out. The pandemic shook dental practices right down to their roots.

Now, here's where things get a tad peculiar. If we look at the 2023 Dental Digital Marketing Index (DDMI), we can see this Covid disruption etched right into the search data, clear as day. In just about every chart for 2020, you can spot the hiccup - it comes right around April, when search activity plummeted faster than a coyote off a cliff. But give it two months, and it's right back up to pre-pandemic levels, with the usual ebb and flow restored. And come 2021, search was off to the races, outpacing previous years, though it did cool its heels a bit by 2022.

So what's all this mean? Heck if we know for sure. But one thing's clear as day - the "near me" tacked onto search keywords kept gaining ground quicker than its counterparts. With the world turned topsy-turvy, folks working from their kitchens and kids learning their ABCs from the living room, it's like the pandemic put the pedal to the metal on the "near me" Wave that was already in motion before Covid rolled into town.