I have a friend who, in 2018, flew to Texas for dental surgery. The trip was necessary. He’d been neglecting his teeth for years until things reached the point where the only real way to fix them was to get rid of them. This office in Texas advertises one-day dental implants—a complete arch of new teeth in 24 hours. My friend made the appointment, flew down there, and came home with choppers that would have made Jerry Dandridge proud (look him up).
That was in 2018. You, Gentle Reader, know full well how things are different now. The Novel Coronavirus 2019 pandemic has made people skittish about conducting even the most mundane activities, such as a trip to the grocery store or walking the dog. How much more skittish, then, have we become about seeing a doctor? The question may be rhetorical, but its subject matter is as real as the virus itself. If you are looking for a dentist during COVID, —or need to go—this article is here to provide some helpful guidelines.
What Your Dentist Knows
First, it’s important to realize that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has long since issued some dentists’ rules to follow during the crisis. These rules were specifically created for infection prevention and control. Before you even call your dentist to make an appointment, know that precautions are already in place. Here are just a few key points the CDC distributes to anyone who holds a DDS or DMD degree:
Infection prevention and control practices
- PPE (personal protective equipment)
- Limit number of visitors to the dental facility
- Screen everyone who enters the dental facility
Treating a patient suspected of infection
- Only when medically necessary
- In a quarantine room
- Do not schedule any other patients for that day
Tip of an iceberg here, but you get the idea. When you make an appointment with your dentist, be assured that nothing is left to chance. You’re going to follow your precautions (more on those coming up), believe you me, and your dentist follow his/hers.
What You Need to Know
The advice you’ve probably heard already is: Don’t go unless you need to. Many Americans maintain this policy toward their dentists even when there isn’t a pandemic (in the industry they are referred to, quite safely behind cupped hands, as dental cowards). However, during the crisis, the “wisdom” of it has gained traction. And indeed, merit.
Since the end of May, dentist offices around the country have been permitted to reopen. That being said, the CDC still recommends that you schedule an appointment only if the circumstances are urgent. These circumstances would include:
- Constant pain
- Broken teeth
- Swollen areas or signs of gum infection
Otherwise, you may want to consider a new way to talk to dentists that have gotten more attention since the virus, called Teledentistry. This means exactly what it sounds like: You can talk to your dentist—and receive instructions—remotely, via the internet, or a simple telephone call.
Should you require a physical visit to the office, the ADA (American Dental Association) recommends the following to help reduce the risk of virus circulation.
- Go to your appointment alone
- Wait in your car, rather than in a waiting room
- Wear your mask
- Cancel the appointment if you’re not feeling well.
Is it safe to go to the dentist during coronavirus? Yes, it is, so long as you’re careful. With everyone taking the necessary precautions, there’s no reason for your teeth to remain healthy and strong.