Is It Safe to Visit the Dentist During COVID-19?
Let’s cut straight to it and answer the question you came here for:
Is it safe to visit the dentist during COVID-19?
As long as your dental practice, like ours, follows the American Dental Association (ADA)… This text opens a new tab to the ADA website… and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)… This text opens a new tab to the CDC website… infection control guidelines for dental settings.
If that short answer satisfies your inquiry, here’s the link to schedule an appointment with our dentists in Durham, NC:
If you need more evidence, please listen to these facts about oral health and COVID-19.
Is dental care essential?
Yes, dental care is essential healthcare because it benefits your entire well-being.
“Dentistry is essential healthcare because of its role in evaluating, diagnosing, preventing or treating oral diseases, which can affect systemic health.”
He also stated:
“With appropriate PPE, dental care should continue to be delivered during global pandemics or other disaster situations.”
If you read the World Health Organization’s… This text opens a new tab to the WHO website… recommendation to delay routine dental care, you’re probably questioning why these two organizations contradict each other.
So here’s what you need to understand:
The WHO statement is a global recommendation and isn’t meant to reverse national, sub-national, or local protocols.
Other parts of the world don’t have the same heightened infection control protocols as the United States, putting dentists and patients more at risk for contracting and spreading COVID-19. Especially in communities with an already growing number of cases.
In other words:
In these parts of the world, your health may be more at risk by visiting the dentist during COVID-19. Therefore, you should delay non-essential dental care.
Whereas in the United States, visiting the dentist during COVID-19 is safe and doesn’t necessarily increase your risk.
In fact, maintaining or improving your oral health during this pandemic may actually lower the severity of contracting COVID-19, which leads us to our next topic…
Can I resume routine dental care?
Dentists were once considered a high-risk group for catching COVID-19 due to the nature of the job.
But, guess what:
A recent study… This text opens a new tab to an article on the study… by the ADA reported less than 1% of dentists nationwide were estimated to have a confirmed or probable COVID-19 infection.
This is significantly less than other healthcare professionals.
And it goes to prove the safety measures dentists are taking to protect you (and themselves) from COVID-19 are working!
Still not convinced?
That’s ok. You have the right to feel fully informed before making any healthcare decisions. Just don’t leave yet!
This next topic is very important:
Hear what the latest coronavirus research tells us and why you shouldn’t avoid or delay your dental care during this pandemic.
The link between oral health and COVID-19
1. If you have periodontitis and COVID-19, you’re more at risk of dying.
The reason for this is interleukin (IL-6), a harmful inflammatory protein produced by periodontitis (gum disease).
“COVID-19 patients with bad gums face a much greater risk of generating harmful IL-6 proteins that spread to their lungs and trigger a life-threatening respiratory crisis.”
“IL-6 levels are shown to be comparatively higher in non-survivors than those who survive.”
This isn’t the first time we’re hearing about periodontitis triggering or causing life-threatening breathing ailments. Gum disease has long been associated with respiratory infections like pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
2. If you’re hospitalized with COVID-19 and have high levels of IL-6, you’re 22 times more likely to suffer from acute respiratory problems and be placed on a ventilator.
At the beginning of the pandemic, being placed on a ventilator meant facing grim odds of recovery, with around 80% dying.
A recent report… This text opens a new tab to the new source… now shows more COVID-19 patients are surviving after being placed on a ventilator, with the death rate down to 35.7%.
It’s wise to reduce your risk by doing what you can now, which includes visiting your dentist to maintain or improve your oral health.
3. Poor oral health is linked to the severity of COVID-19.
Periodontitis and tooth decay are two of the most common oral diseases associated with an imbalance of bacteria in the mouth.
This study… This text opens a new tab to a study on COVID-19… suggests the harmful bacteria from these diseases can form cytokines that infiltrate your saliva and be breathed into your lungs. This increases your risk for inter-bacterial exchanges between the mouth and lungs, which can initiate or progress a lung infection. Having a lung infection worsens your severity of COVID-19.
More research related to poor oral health and COVID-19:
- Over 80% of COVID-19 patients in the ICU exhibited an exceptionally high bacterial load.
- Respiratory viral infections predispose patients to bacterial superinfections.
- Bacterial superinfections are common in patients suffering from a severe case of COVID-19, with more than 50% of deaths exhibiting bacterial superinfections.
- Bacterial superinfections may supersede the original viral infection.
- During the influenza pandemics in 1918 and 2009, the primary cause of death wasn’t the virus itself but from a bacterial superinfection.
4. Groups who are at risk for oral diseases are also at risk for COVID-19.
If you fall into any of these categories, odds are you’re more at risk for both poor oral health and contracting COVID-19:
- Over the age of 65
- Racial minority
- Low socioeconomic group
- Live in a rural area
- Uninsured (dental and/or medical)
- Have a medical problem (diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, etc.)
- Consume alcohol
- Use tobacco
- Poor diet
Conclusion: Visit the dentist during COVID-19
First, it’s safe to resume routine dental care so long as your dentist follows the ADA and CDC guidelines on infection control.
Second, research shows poor oral health, especially periodontitis, is linked to the severity of COVID-19, including death.
So, if you have poor oral health, you should prioritize improving it – it may save your life. And if your oral health is in tip-top shape, continue maintaining your regular dental visits and at-home routine.
At Croasdaile Dental Arts, we’re committed to your safety.
From parking lot check-ins to a socially distanced schedule and new air filtration to temperature checks, we’ve gone beyond the standard to ensure our patients of all ages can safely return for all dental services.