Since coronavirus is mainly spread through respiratory droplets from a person who coughs, sneezes, or even talks, it’s not surprising that people would have concerns about going to the dentist. You may be surprised to discover, however, that it happens to be one of the safer places to go during the pandemic.
Just before the New Year, the American Dental Association (ADA), highlighted a study demonstrating that fewer than 1% of dentists across the nation were estimated to have COVID-19 (as of June 2020). And, as of the time the study was released no documented transmissions had been reported (as of December 1, 2020). In an effort to keep monitoring the infection-rate and spread of coronavirus in dental settings, this study will be ongoing, including identifying infection among dental hygienists moving forward.
It’s important to note as well, that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not reported any documented transmissions of COVID-19 in a clinical dental setting.
As monitoring of safety continues, the ADA will maintain the most current recommendations with state dental societies, who in turn, coordinate communications with state governments.
At Penn, we are altered to any changes in protocols—if and when—they surface. We have, since the beginning (and prior to) the pandemic, always been committed to the highest standards of safety to keep our students, faculty advisors, patients, and staff protected. This includes:
- Continuing the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), (including face masks and face shields.)
- Sanitizing and routine cleaning maximized for infection control in all areas of our clinic (including the waiting room.)
- Ongoing social distancing and staggered dental appointments.
- Sustaining patient safety guidelines such as wearing masks, staying home if a fever, cough, and other symptoms are present.
- Having patients sanitize their hands and mouth rinsing during each appointment.
While discussing the advice to continue dental visits (in light of maximized safety and low-risk of infection), the ADA’s statement also outlined the importance of routine dental care as an essential health service. In the next section, we’ll discuss why it’s vital to make dental visits a priority for your overall health.
Why Routine Dental Appointments Should Continue
Because positive oral health affects overall health, the ADA states, “Regular dental visits are important because treatment, as well as prevention of dental disease, helps keep people healthy.”
The preventative aspect is especially important. Maintaining routine dental care—whether taking care of a dental problem or coming in for checkups and cleanings—can potentially prevent any major oral or even overall health issues necessitating emergency care. Left untreated, dental conditions such as gum disease and tooth decay can lead to more problematic health scenarios.
With the pandemic numbers still high according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health statistics (at the time this was published), many emergency rooms are either at capacity or at a minimum, fielding people with COVID. If a dental emergency can be avoided, all the better.
What Kind of Dental Procedures Are Available?
For now, the ADA explains that “essential dental care” includes “Any care that prevents or eliminates infection and preserves the structure and function of teeth and orofacial hard and soft tissues.” In other words, that means our patients can proceed with dental treatments in the following areas:
As we remain dedicated to the highest standards in safety and patient communication, we encourage you not to delay scheduling a dental visit. In an effort to help ensure your oral health is in good standing (and stays that way), we’d like to extend $25 off your next visit as a new patient.
You can schedule a consultation with our office at 215-898-8985. Or, call us any time for questions.