With COVID-19 continuing to spread throughout the country, going to the dentist simply does not fee as simple as it always was.
The thought of the dentist or dental technician right, just mere inches from your face and working on your pearly whites simply cannot be addressed with social distancing. So, is it safe to go back?
While it is impossible to 100% eliminate all risk, many dentists have taken precautions to protect their patients' health, beyond their teeth.
Many of the best practices are precautionary, including the removal of magazines and some chairs from waiting rooms to urge social distancing. Facemasks are also generally required for an appointment.
Dentists themselves are using manual equipment, instead of their usual tools, to maintain some distance from their patients, and wearing more personal protective equipment (PPE) from head to toe, to decrease the possible spread of Coronavirus.
The CDC urges that dental offices screen patients for COVID-19 symptoms before their appointments, have patients wait outside or in their cars, place a glass or plastic barriers in front of receptionists, and install air filters, as well as enforce many other protocols.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the volume of dental appointments in June was only 60% of what it was prior to March 15, 2020 when quarantines began to be put in place in the U.S.
According to a report by the Associated Press, many health professionals are still concerned about Americans rushing back to the dentist office, since COVID-19 can be spread through the mouth and nose.
Michele Neuberger, a dental officer at the CDC’s oral health division says, "Dental health care personnel use instruments such as dental drills, ultrasonic scalers and air-water syringes that create a visible spray that can contain particle droplets of water, saliva, blood, microorganisms and other debris."
Because of this, dentist offices have a "unique characteristics that warrant specific infection control considerations.”
Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious disease specialist at the Mayo Clinic, says that it’s unavoidable for COVID-19 to spread from patient to dentist, or vice-versa. However, other health professionals argue that current safety precautions are enough to protect dentists and their patients.
Dr. Jospeh Vinetz MD, a professor at Yale School of Medicine, says that “as long as the dentist and assistants wear masks and get tested" it is safe to go and get your teeth checked.
In the era of Zoom business meetings and even reunions, teledentistry has now becoming more of a thing, according to the ADA, although this might make a dental cleaning a very unique experience.
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