When COVID-19 began in March 2020, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommended dental practices postpone elective dental procedures until April 30, 2020. By that date, most dental offices were closed to routine care and only saw patients needing emergency or urgent care.
The guidance has changed since then, and most practices are seeing patients in the office again. For those asking, “Should I go to the doctor or dentist for nonurgent appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic?” The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, for those who want to see the dentist, COVID vaccines have helped eliminate some of the previous concerns about receiving dental care.
Penn Dental Medicine encourages patients to make appointments for necessary care right away—whether they have been vaccinated for COVID-19 or not. Although operational changes, including reduced office capacity, mean you may see a different provider than usual and additional safety precautions are in place, our staff is eager to see you.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the same populations disproportionately affected by COVID-19—including minorities and the elderly—are also at higher risk for oral diseases. These populations also have less access to both routine and urgent dental care, which has only worsened during the pandemic.
The fact that many practices reduced hours and limited services to urgent or emergency needs has only furthered these disparities. However, most dental practices, including PDM, have reopened with precautions, and there’s no need to continue putting off dental care, especially if you are fully vaccinated.
In fact, if you need dental care for any reason, even if it’s only to get back on track with routine exams, it’s important to make an appointment to see the dentist. Preventive care can prevent dental emergencies and health concerns that may require emergency department attention, which should still be avoided as much as possible.
It’s especially vital to see the dentist for routine care if you have certain chronic conditions, including:
Pregnant women should also prioritize seeing their dentist, as gum disease is linked to premature birth and low birth weight. With oral healthcare so crucial to your well-being and dental offices (including PDM) closely following CDC protocols to reduce the risk of infection, there is no reason to postpone dental care until you get the COVID vaccine.
As of April 19, 2021, all Americans age 16 and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccines are safe and effective, reducing your risk of developing severe illness if you are infected by the virus that causes COVID-19. Getting vaccinated may also help prevent infected individuals from spreading the virus, keeping others from getting sick, and getting everyone closer to the end of the pandemic that has disrupted every aspect of life for over a year.
Although you may experience some side effects after receiving the vaccine, they are generally mild and short-lived. The currently available vaccines for COVID-19 are some of the most closely monitored in U.S. history. Millions of Americans have received the shot without any problems.
According to CDC guidance, getting the COVID vaccine allows you to return to certain pre-pandemic activities, including domestic travel and gathering with small groups of friends and family. And, while it has been safe to get medical care and see the dentist, COVID vaccines remove even more risk from getting this all-important care.
If you haven’t yet scheduled your vaccination, talk to your healthcare provider, or visit vaccinefinder.org to search for an available appointment near you.
PDM recognizes that patients have concerns about resuming dental care during the COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of their vaccination status. With that in mind, certain safety precautions are in place for everyone’s protection. These are in line with the CDC protocols and include:
And of course, PDM requests that anyone having symptoms of COVID-19 reschedule their appointments and contact their healthcare provider. Patients who arrive at the PDM office with symptoms will be sent home.
Regardless of whether you are fully vaccinated, if you need dental care, make an appointment today. Don’t neglect your oral health while you wait for a vaccine. PDM is providing essential care in all areas, including general dentistry, orthodontics, oral surgery, periodontics, and pediatric dentistry. As always, you can expect the highest standards in patient care, safety, and communication.
To make an appointment, or if you have any questions, call our office at 215-898-8985. We look forward to seeing you again soon.