You have a throbbing toothache, but is it safe to go to the dentist right now? Put your mind at ease by learning what you can expect at a dental appointment.
Is it safe to go to the dentist now, or should you put dental matters on the back burner? Patients everywhere want to know the answer to this question. Spoiler alert—yes, you can visit the dentist safely. But there are a few precautions to take. Here’s what you need to know before scheduling an appointment.
Should I Go to the Dentist During COVID?
Oral health is just as important as healthcare for other parts of your body, but it gets sidelined the most for some reason. When the pandemic hit in early 2020, many people were nervous about visiting any medical professional. And dentists were at the top of the list. The American Dental Association (ADA) even recommended dental clinics remained closed, except for emergency procedures, until case numbers declined.
Those rules have started to change. Now, both the ADA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest dental offices weigh the risks and decide for themselves if it’s safe for patients to return. And since we know a lot more about how the virus transmits, many dentists feel comfortable opening to near-normal levels.
So, yes, you should visit your dentist during COVID—especially if you suspect a problem. COVID-19 should not be a reason to cancel an upcoming appointment. Prompt care is crucial for a healthy smile. But if you still feel uncomfortable, be sure to ask your dentist what precautions they are taking.
The Numbers Don’t Lie: It’s Safe to Visit the Dentist
Sure, you realize the importance of oral care, but is it safe to go to the dentist during coronavirus? Visiting the dentist, as it turns out, is a pretty safe thing to do.
A study released by the ADA reported that less than 1% of dentists were positive for COVID-19. This report caught many people by surprise. Initially, experts assumed positivity rates would be higher in dental clinics. But this good news isn’t that unexpected.
Dentists have always practiced impeccable hygiene habits, even before the pandemic. Wearing gloves, masks, and protective eye gear was always part of the job. Although clinics may have upped their sanitation practices, dental offices have always been a germ-free zone. And low transmission rates further proved that these healthy habits work.
What Does Going to the Dentist Look Like Right Now?
Pre-pandemic, going to the dentist didn’t require any special planning. You arrived at your appointment on time and headed inside to wait your turn. And you probably panic-brushed your teeth beforehand.
But with COVID-19 making headlines, going to the dentist now looks a bit different. In order to adhere to CDC social distancing guidelines, there will be fewer people inside the clinic at a time. Upon arrival, you’ll call to announce yourself and wait until the staff tells you to enter the building. Expect to see plenty of hand sanitizer, and don’t be shy about using it.
You’ll still have to fill out paperwork. In addition to the typical forms, you may also see a questionnaire asking about symptoms or recent travel. Answer everything truthfully and to the best of your ability. Someone will also take your temperature.
Most clinics also require masks for both staff and patients. While seeing your dentist and hygienist in PPE isn’t anything new, they may wear even more protective gear, like a face shield. You can also rest assured the staff disinfected all surfaces and tools beforehand.
Other than fewer people, more forms, lots of hand sanitizer, and extra PPE, everything else should look the same. And regardless of the pandemic, your dentist will still provide you with the highest level of care.
Why You Need to See a Dentist Even During COVID
When was the last time you visited the dentist? Ideally, you go twice a year. But lately, many patients are hesitant about making an appointment. Some blame fear. Others don’t have the time. Besides, is it safe to go to the dentist during COVID anyway?
Dental care is crucial. The dentist does more than clean teeth (although nothing beats that fresh-from-the-dentist feeling). During your appointment, your dentist will perform a comprehensive exam. What are they looking for? Cavities, gum recession, bite issues, and oral cancer, for starters. The goal is to catch and treat these conditions in the early stages to avoid further complications.
The most common dental problems treated by dentists are tooth decay and gum disease. You probably realize these issues can lead to tooth loss, but did you know they can also send you to the hospital? That’s right—oral problems can turn dangerous quickly. These issues can lead to severe infection, and if left untreated, may spread to other parts of your body. Gum disease alone, which affects about 64.7 million Americans, may cause heart and lung infections.
So yes, visiting the dentist, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, is essential. Your smile will thank you later.
When Should You NOT Go to the Dentist?
Just because dental clinics are relatively safe doesn’t mean you should go no matter what. If you feel under the weather, you should stay home to reduce the risk of transmission. These are valid reasons to reschedule your appointment:
- You have a fever.
- You have any symptoms of COVID-19, including cough, fever, nausea, sore throat, or muscle aches.
- You have a decreased sense of taste or smell.
- You tested positive for COVID-19 with the last 14 days.
- A close contact tested positive for COVID-19.
- You traveled outside of the United States recently.
There are other reasons why you may choose to delay dental appointments until cases drop even more. For instance, immunocompromised patients or those with preexisting conditions may be at a higher risk of developing severe disease. Before you skip an appointment for underlying health problems, let your dentist know your concerns. They may be able to provide additional accommodations to ensure your safety.
Dr. Saylor Is Serious About Patient Safety
Dr. Saylor strives to keep patients safe. That’s why our office has extra precautions in place to help stop the spread. When you arrive at our clinic, we ask you to wait in your car to limit the number of patients inside at a time. We also request you wear a mask until seated in the dental chair. All patients must pass a temperature check and fill out a CVOID-19 screening form before their appointment. We also provide hand sanitizer and ask you to wash your hands frequently.
Pandemic or not, Dr. Saylor wants to make sure you always have a beautiful, healthy smile. Whether you have a specific concern or just want to schedule a dental cleaning, our staff will go above and beyond to keep you safe and comfortable at all times.
Is it safe to go to the dentist right now? Absolutely! Contact Dr. Saylor to learn how we always put safety first or to schedule your next dentist appointment.