We are about a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and our lives have changed in many ways. As a dentist, we, like many other professions, have had to change the way we operate to help keep our patients and employees safe. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a high level of concern about going to the dentist other than in extreme emergencies. People believed there would be a high risk of COVID transmission due to many dental procedures creating aerosols. However, as we look back, there have been almost no noted instances of transmission in dental offices nation-wide. Some of the measures that have helped tremendously are pre-appointment screening of patients, oral rinses before treatment, enhanced air filtration during procedures and increased time and disinfection procedures between patients. 

Data shows when dental offices take correct precautions, it is a safe place to be. When you feel comfortable, it is important to be seen for regular cleanings and checkups as cavities and gum disease don’t take a break because of COVID. 

We know that gum disease affects many other general health conditions, and now we can add COVID to the list. A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology reported a relationship between gum disease and the severity of COVID infection and the importance of maintaining regular dental check-ups. The study found that “periodontitis was associated with higher risk of ICU admission, need for assisted ventilation and death of COVID-19 patients, and with increased blood levels of biomarkers linked to worse disease outcomes.” It is essential to keep our gums in good health during this time with diligent flossing.

Ultimately, many people have been hesitant about returning to their dentist for general care due to  COVID. I recommend you wait until you feel comfortable returning, but want you to know that all the new precautions we are taking make it a safe place to be. The benefit is that some of these increased precautions will likely become new patient safety standards, even after COVID is a distant memory. 

Dr. Nick is with Palm Desert Smiles and can be reached at (760) 568.3602.

1) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/jcpe.13435

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