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Handling Dental Visits Despite The COVID-19 Pandemic

A dentist. | Image: CDC

Ever since the pandemic outbreak, several dental clinics have taken different methods to help patients with accessing dental care. Some dental clinics have gone ahead to create virtual consultations and have limited the number of walk-in patients. Nevertheless, with all these measures put in place, many people are quite reserved with having dental procedures during these periods. This is because of the number of body fluids involved and worries on how dental practitioners would handle this.

Dental Treatment During The Early Phase of COVID-19.
During the early phase of the pandemic, the lockdown saw many facilities become non-functional, making rendering dental services difficult. Dental care generally was impacted by the well-documented evidence that asymptomatic patients may transmit the virus. This theory was based on the fact that COVID-19 was transmissible through saliva and other aerosol ways.

Moreso, dental interventions can provoke certain actions like involuntary coughing or gag thus propelling droplets. Routines like fillings and cleaning create spray and aerosols may likely propel tiny droplets of saliva to the environment.

As such, many dental clinics have closed for operational safety reasons as personal protective equipment (PPE) is scarce and only variable available outside of hospitals. PPE is understandably being prioritised for staff at the frontline carrying out emergency intubation and for those teams nursing sick COVID positive patients.

Healthy tooth. | Image: USC

What Dental Clinics Did
Having understood these challenges, dental practitioners had to take a step back to strategise on several ways to help render dental services to society. Dental clinics gradually began helping patients through virtual consultations and advised patients on basic first aid to some dental procedures. A little while later, sanitation and fumigations were done, then they began receiving emergency cases.

As of now, dental clinics are open to receive patients but have limited the number of cases dentists attend to. Some advanced dental clinics have made it compulsory that if it is not a dental emergency, you would need to book an appointment first.

How Do You Handle Dental Visitations during COVID-19?
In truth, we can’t have control over every event. You may feel like there are no reasons why you should visit the dental clinic during this pandemic season. However, unlikely incidents may prompt your visitation and you may have pondered over the following questions:

Is The Dentist’s Office Safe?
Yes, the dental clinic has to do with a lot of body fluids that can be easily dispersed. However, one thing you should remember is that dentists have always been clean. They often sterilise their environments because of transmissible diseases. So with this pandemic, extra measures have been taken to keep the environment clean. Dentists disinfect all surfaces and tools more than before, clean, replace and cover tools more frequently, wear protective gear, and of course, use a mask.

Moreso dental appointments have been spaced, and patients are required to call their dentist before they walk in. At the point of entrance, the patient’s temperature is checked and also is expected to wear a mask. Then, travel and contact history are of paramount importance to the dentist. It is also advised that you limit the number of people that accompany you to the clinic and use hand sanitizers in-between.

What To Consider Before Going To The Dentist
It is common knowledge that coronavirus is spread through respiratory and is most transmissible when someone coughs or sneezes right at the face of another or within limited meters. There is also a likelihood that others may be affected. These are fluids dentists often come in contact with. Only a few dental clinics have been able to manage this effectively.

If you have any reason to visit the dental clinic during this pandemic, kindly ensure to follow the instructions set up by your dentist. Most of them have been listed in the article above. Try as much as possible to wear a mask, use a sanitizer, and tell your dentist the truth during the clerking procedure.

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