As we all do our best to prevent exposing ourselves to the coronavirus by isolating at home or by protecting ourselves with masks, hand sanitizer, and maintaining six foot distances as we venture out, we also need to be mindful of keeping our bodies healthy so that our immune system can be ready in case it is confronted with this virus. Did you know that there is a direct link between your oral wellness and your overall health? We have all heard that people with certain risk factors like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems are more likely to have complications if they contract COVID-19. Maintaining good oral hygiene and ensuring that we have regular dental examinations and cleanings is important in helping to ensure that our immune system is functioning at full capacity and is not already overwhelmed fighting off oral bacteria when it is confronted with coronavirus particles.
There has recently been talk on the news that perhaps we should be avoiding dental appointments as part of our social distancing to avoid any possible exposure to the virus. The American Dental Association made a statement to the nation recently to address these concerns stating that dental care can be delivered safely amidst the pandemic with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Dental professionals for years have had to prepare their teams and offices for infection disease control. We dentists have now added many new safety precautions to help minimize the risk of transmitting COVID-19 in our practices. It is worth noting that during this pandemic there have been no clusters of COVID outbreaks directly traced to dental offices.
In our own dental office, PPE consists of an N95 mask, a hair cover, goggles, a face shield, gloves, and a treatment jacket. We now launder our uniforms on site and change jackets after every patient to ensure we do not pass viral particles from one patient to the next. Each of our team members and patients are screened every day upon arrival by taking their temperature, checking their oxygen saturation level, verifying that they are symptom free, and checking their risk factors with a COVID screening questionnaire. Medical grade air purifiers have been placed throughout the office and viral HEPA filters installed all air conditioning return vents. Patients are asked to wash their hands and use a peroxide based mouthrinse prior to receiving treatment. And, of course, dental tools, equipment, and treatment rooms are disinfected and sterilized thoroughly after every patient. Many offices like ours are implementing these kinds of protocols to ensure that our patients are able to continue to receive dental care in an environment that protects them from virus and disease transmission. So do not put off your oral health check-ups, dental cleanings, and preventive care as it may impact your overall health and affect your body’s immune system, preventing you from mounting your best defense against COVID-19.