Dental Visits Under COVID-19 Pandemic
Even in this time of the pandemic, immediate dental concerns should not be ignored. If you feel you need to visit a dentist, keep these tips in mind to minimize the risks during your appointment.
With the Coronavirus ushering changes and challenges in almost every area of our lives, people are wondering whether it is safe to visit your dentist during the pandemic.
Because the novel coronavirus can spread through saliva droplets, the dental practice has been considered high-risk. Dental and surgical instruments can create a visible spray of these droplets which may find their way into another person’s nose, mouth, or eyes. Furthermore, the virus has been shown to spread primarily between those who are in close contact with one another and is known to survive in aerosols for hours.
Why You Should Still See Your Dentist
Oral health is a key component in our overall well-being. Through consultation, a dentist will be able to detect not just cavities, but other problems and diseases such as vitamin deficiencies, diabetes, and heart problems.
Studies have even shown the health of our mouth can affect our whole body. It has also been found that good dental hygiene can prevent infections that may eventually lead to other diseases like asthma, arthritis, and other respiratory problems.
If you are experiencing pain, infection, and other symptoms needing urgent care, including oral-maxillofacial conditions, a dental visit is imperative.
The New Normal in Dental Care
In the earlier stages of the quarantine, the Philippine Dental Association (PDA) advised dentists to defer elective procedures such as cleaning and fluoride treatment. These also included non-urgent visits and surgeries like teeth whitening, restoration of asymptomatic lesions, and orthodontic adjustment.
As we moved towards less strict quarantine classifications, dentists have begun accepting more patients in their clinics. The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) appealed to local government units to ensure that dentists in their jurisdiction follow the health and safety standards prescribed by the Department of Health. The DILG also urged dentists to wear personal protective equipment while treating their patients.
With the aim to minimize the risk both to patients and dental healthcare personnel, most dental offices now see patients strictly by appointment. They screen patients by phone before confirming the visit as part of their precautions. Plastic sheets for separation in areas such as the reception and air purifiers throughout the clinic have also been a common sight.
How to Keep Your Dental Visit Safe
When calling to confirm an appointment with your dentist, it is best to ask about their safety and sanitation protocols. Make sure that you are informed about how they screen and schedule the patients, whether they undergo testing for their staff on a regular basis, and how they sanitize the clinic spaces.
As much as possible, it is advisable not to bring a companion along. Wear your face masks and face shields. Disinfect your hands and shoes, have your temperature checked and answer the questionnaire given to you upon arrival at the clinic. Observe the physical distancing protocols implemented, and make sure that you also thoroughly sanitize yourself when you come home after the visit.
Practice Everyday Dental Hygiene
While there is no cure or vaccine yet for COVID-19 and dental visits entail risks, the most prudent thing to do is to make sure we are consciously taking care of our dental health everyday. Brush your teeth thrice a day. Make it a habit to use an antibacterial mouthwash daily. Keep in mind to use dental floss effectively.
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables can help in keeping your teeth and gums clean. Foods with fluoride are also beneficial, such as spinach, potatoes, and black tea. Avoid sticky candies and sweets. Try also to limit your soft drink intake.
If you need to visit a dentist, keep in mind the health precautions to minimize the risks as we move forward in these unprecedented times.