When COVID-19 cases began to rise in March, the American Dental Association… This text opens a new tab to the ADA website… (ADA) put a halt on all routine dental care to help prevent the spread.
Thereafter, guidelines by the ADA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention… This text opens a new tab to the CDC website… (CDC) were released, instructing our dentists on how to reopen safely.
There’s still some confusion on receiving dental care during the pandemic.
And not too long ago, the World Health Organization… This text opens a new tab to the WHO website… (WHO) released a contradictory statement, which caused even more confusion.
So in this blog, we’re going to set the record straight.
We’ll answer the top question, “Can I resume dental care?” and provide you with all the up-to-date facts.
Can I resume routine dental care?
If your dentist follows the ADA and CDC guidelines on infection control, like us, the answer is:
Yes, you can safely resume routine dental care in the United States.
Now, let’s quickly address the WHO recommendation from back in August.
What most people read or heard was:
The WHO advises dentists (and patients) to delay routine or non-essential dental care.
And what most people missed was:
This is a global recommendation. It’s not meant to override national, sub-national, or local protocols.
The United States’ level of dental care and infection control is far more advanced than most of the world.
“The American Dental Association (ADA) respectfully yet strongly disagrees with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation to delay ‘routine’ dental care in certain situations due to COVID-19.”
In other words, we’re exempt from the WHO recommendation to delay dental care during COVID-19.
We also wouldn’t advise you to resume routine dental care if it weren’t safe, which leads us to our next point.
Is the dentist’s office safe during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Less than 1% of dentists nationwide were estimated to be COVID-19 positive.
Which is far less than other health care professionals!
This is celebratory news considering dentists were once considered one of the most at-risk health care professionals for COVID-19.
Why is going to the dentist during the pandemic safe?
- Dental professionals have always followed strict infection control protocols.
- They’ve added additional safety measures.
As former ADA President, Chad P. Gehani said,
“Millions of patients have safely visited their dentists in the past few months for the full range of dental services. With appropriate PPE, dental care should continue to be delivered during global pandemics or other disaster situations.”
Keep reading to see what we’re is doing to protect you from COVID-19.
Now, if you need more convincing or evidence:
Let’s look at some research on the connection between COVID-19 and oral health.
The link between COVID-19 and dental care
Why is dental care so important?
As Dr. Gehani put it:
“Dentistry is essential health care because of its role in evaluating, diagnosing, preventing or treating oral diseases, which can affect systemic health.”
Your mouth is a gateway to the rest of your body.
Untreated dental problems can lead to overall health problems, including heart disease and strokes.
Dentists are often the first doctors to notice early signs of life-threatening health problems, including oral cancer and diabetes.
How does your oral health affect COVID-19 or vice-versa?
Let’s take a look at what the latest studies are reporting.
COVID-19 facts you should know
1. Having periodontitis (gum disease) puts you more at risk of dying from COVID-19
In a three month study… This text opens a new tab to an article on the study…, it was reported that:
“Hospitalized COVID-19 patients with high levels of interleukin (IL-6), a harmful protein produced by periodontitis, were at significantly greater risk of suffering life-threatening respiratory problems…”
The researchers suggest that the harmful IL-6 proteins procedure by the gum disease spread into your lungs trigger a life-threatening respiratory crisis.
Prior evidence has linked gum disease to other breathing ailments, like pneumonia, so this doesn’t come as a huge shock, although all the same, it’s still frightening.
2. Having periodontitis may increase your chance of being placed on a ventilator
COVID-19 patients with high levels of IL-6 are 22 times more likely to be placed on a ventilator.
The study also reported:
Since the beginning of the pandemic in the United States, 80% of those who suffered respiratory failure and were on ventilators died.
3. The older generation are more at risk for poor oral health and dying from COVID-19
The older you are, the more at risk you are for having periodontitis.
You’re also more at risk of dying from COVID-19.
Moral of this story:
Encourage your older loved ones to visit the dentist!
Our Waldorf dentists and team ensure our office is safe for all ages.
4. Poor oral hygiene increases the severity of COVID-19
Poor oral hygiene causes decay, plaque build-up, and periodontitis. All of these – whether individually or all together – cause high levels of harmful bacteria in your mouth.
This increases your risk of inter-bacterial exchanges between your mouth and lungs.
Having harmful bacteria in your lungs can cause or aggravate a lung or respiratory infection like COVID-19 and create a bacterial superinfection.
In this study… This text opens a new tab to the official study…, it was reported:
- Over 80% of patients in ICU exhibited an exceptionally high bacterial load.
- Bacterial superinfections are common in patients suffering from a severe case of COVID-19.
- More than 50% of COVID-19 deaths exhibit a bacterial superinfection.
As you can see:
Poor oral health, predominantly periodontitis, is associated with having a worse case of COVID-19.
Now for some good news…
Oral health problems are preventable and treatable
Maintaining or improving your oral health during the pandemic is crucial.
How to keep your teeth and gums healthy during COVID-19:
- Visit our dentists for regular dental exams.
- Get your teeth cleaned by our dental hygienists as recommended.
- Complete necessary dental treatments.
And at home, you should:
- Brush your teeth twice per day.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Use fluoridated toothpaste.
- Floss daily.
- Drink enough water.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Limit sugar intake.
What The Silberman Dental Group is doing to keep you safe
Our Waldorf dental office has always followed the highest infection control standards and will continue to monitor the guidelines set forth by CDC, ADA, and OSHA.
In addition to our traditional sterilization protocols, we’ve added the following safety measures.
- Before your appointment, we’ll ask you a series of health screening questions.
- No guests are allowed unless you need someone to accompany you for medical or personal reasons.
- You’ll check-in from your car by calling us. Then we’ll tell you when to enter our office.
- Upon entry, we’ll check your temperature.
- Staff are screened and have their temperature taken daily.
- Masks are required for everyone (patients, guests, and staff).
- Clinical staff wears new personal protective equipment, including specialized long gowns, specialized masks, and face shields.
- High-speed intraoral suctions for aerosol evacuation have been added to each treatment room.
- Extra disinfection cycles throughout the day, including sanitization of doorknobs, doors, countertops, and other high-touch surfaces.
- Mail and packages are being delivered through the back, away from patient areas.
- Clear acrylic “sneeze guards” are installed in the reception.
- Our lobby has been rearranged to abide by social distancing guidelines, and we’ve removed hard-to-clean items like magazines.
- Hand sanitizer is available at the front door and throughout the office.
Have questions for our dentists?
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Our dentists are located in Waldorf, MD and see patients from across the state, including Charlotte Hall, White Plains, La Plata, Brandywine, Accokeek, and Mechanicsville.