Early in 2020, dentistry was declared a high-risk profession by the ADA and CDC in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. All dental offices were asked to stop non-urgent visits and surgeries during the early months of the pandemic. Gradually, once lockdowns were lifted and things started opening up, dental practices reopened too. However, people are still skeptical about visiting their dentists.
For overall health, dental health cannot be neglected. Negligence of oral care can have serious consequences. According to the CDC, the top three dental conditions that can affect the quality of life include:
- Tooth decay
- Severe gum disease
- Severe tooth loss
Prolonged gum disease can also lead to life-threatening conditions like heart infection or lung disease.
Despite the recent rollout of vaccines, the novel coronavirus isn’t even close to being entirely eradicated. The virus may persist for years, but oral care cannot be neglected for that long. So, can you start visiting your dentist now?
Why Was Dentistry Flagged as a High-Risk Profession?
The spread of the novel coronavirus is through virus-contaminated saliva droplets of a symptomatic or asymptomatic person. When these droplets enter the mouth, nose, or eyes of another person, it leads to infection.
Dentists’ offices contain large amounts of saliva droplets due to the dental instruments creating aerosols. These particles can stay in the air for hours and land on surfaces like doorknobs or dental chairs. The smallest of these particles can contain high levels of virus and prove to be powerful COVID-19 vectors.
Since dentists directly deal with saliva and work in very close proximity with the patients, they are at a high risk of catching the virus. At the same time, the patients are also at a high risk of contracting the virus from the dentists.
It is Safe to Visit the Dentist Even During a Pandemic
This may come as a surprise considering all the reasons mentioned above point to the contrary. According to a study published by the American Dental Association in October 2020, less than 1% of dentists were found to be COVID positive. This is much less than other health professionals. The study includes data from 2,200 dental professionals across the nation.
According to experts, this deviation from the previous belief comes from the fact that dentists have already been following universal precautionary measures since the pre-COVID times. This includes:
- Wearing a mask, gloves, shield for the eyes
- Sterilizing the instruments before and after every use
- Maintaining the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene
Even during the pandemic, dentists have been following ADA and CDC guidelines to keep their staff and patients as safe as possible. At Smile Well Dental, we have been adhering to the Canadian Dental Association’s (CDA) guidelines. In addition to the already existing hygienic practices, we:
- Have begun using HEPA filters and ultraviolet irradiation of upper-room air
- Make sure that neither a sick patient nor staff shows up
- Follow a toolkit and a hazard assessment checklist released by CDA
Contrary to the existing belief, dentists are not at a high risk of developing or spreading COVID-19. Studies show that majority of dentists are asymptomatic. In Vancouver, dentists have been following universal precautionary measures in their practice, regardless of a pandemic, dental offices are safe to visit. In light of the pandemic, dentists in Vancouver have been adhering to the CDA guidelines to ensure the proper safety of their patients and clinical staff.