Many people are feeling anxiety over all of the unknowns and uncertainties associated with the current coronavirus pandemic. The news is full of conflicting information, and it can be difficult to know how you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Our last blog focused on how we at Serene Smiles are safely providing essential dental care to all of our patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this article, we will discuss the specific issues of safety involved in visiting a dental office during this unusual time.
What is the Risk Associated with Visiting a Dental Office?
We still need more scientific research to understand the exact numbers associated with the different routes of virus transmission. We do know that the highest level of risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus involves droplets from the nose and mouth. This is why sneezing, coughing, spitting, speaking, and even breathing in close proximity to others is dangerous. This is also why wearing a face covering over your mouth and nose protect both you and the people with whom you come into contact.
We also use the “social distancing” of standing a minimum of six feet away from others in areas where we must come into contact (like the checkout line in the grocery store). The further we are away from others, the less likely we are to be exposed to any droplets in the air around them.
The unique problem in dentistry is that we cannot provide dental care from more than six feet away or while the patient is wearing a mask. This is why dental practices had to make many changes in our daily operating procedures. The precautions that we take every day lower the risk of any virus transmission to almost zero.
So Is It Safe to Go to the Dentist during COVID-19?
Because of the strict protocols we have added and adhere to every day, we can confidently answer “Yes!”
Our very presence at work each day proves our assurance that going to the dentist is safe. The dental team members receive the highest amounts of exposure because they are in close proximity to people who are not wearing masks. Therefore, we are placing ourselves at the highest level of risk. Because we obviously believe our protocols are ensuring our own safety, we can confirm to each patient that we are protecting his or her own safety as well.
Dentistry has always held extremely high standards for infection control. Because historically the focus was mostly on blood borne diseases, like HIV and Hepatitis C, we always maintained strict conditions for sterilization of dental instruments and disinfection of each treatment room between patients. The COVID-19 pandemic has added a new focus on airborne diseases. So not only do we clean every surface, we also clean the air.
We perform this air treatment using UV lights in each operatory (treatment room) between patient visits. This takes a little extra time, so we are spacing our patient appointments out to allow for this additional room treatment.
You will notice that your dental providers are wearing additional personal protective equipment. This is for both their own protection and yours as patients. By protecting ourselves from the virus, we can make certain that we do not pass it on to others.
Is It Best to Just Wait for Dental Care?
For most people, the answer is no. The risk of transmission is low, and the risk of dental problems is relatively high. It is never a good idea to put yourself at risk for life-threatening dental infections. If you are low risk for coronavirus, we recommend that you continue to see your dentist.
Only those patients who are high risk should consider waiting, and that is only if you have a low risk for dental problems during the waiting period. If you are not sure about your dental risk, give us a call. We can look through your records and help you make the best decision for your specific situation.
More Questions about COVID-19 and Dentistry?
Call our office at 614-568-3909 today, and let us know your concerns. We are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding your need for dental treatment and our safety precautions during this pandemic.