Research shows that there is a strong link between our overall health and oral health. From increasing the risk of having a stroke to Alzheimers disease – Our oral health is affecting our vulnerability to many health problems. At the moment, having extra-good dental hygiene to prevent complications that might also make one more vulnerable to viruses around us is a good choice. But what about regular dental check-up appointments – Is it safe to visit the dental offices at these times? According to a review on pandemic protocols of dental clinics from 16 countries, there seems to be many options for creating a more hygienic dental environment, making practices safer to visit and work in.
What Are the Risks and How To Minimize Them?
- One of the contamination risks is the action of aerosol flying to the air from certain procedures, such as the use of a drill. According to research, this aerosol that is released from the patients’ mouth can travel up to 1.5 meters from the source, landing on surfaces of the dental office. How has the risk of contamination from aerosol been minimized around the world? Many dental clinics have reduced the availability of treatment options, more specifically, of those that require using drills and other equipment that easily spread aerosol in the air. Some have changed their equipment to mechanical ones, making the work less efficient yet safer by decreasing aerosol in the air. Moreover, while many procedures require the use of drilling and scaling that might indeed cause risks for contamination, the regular check-ups and cleaning that prevent the activation of oral health issues does not always require the use of those equipment.
- Another potential risk is contamination through the dental equipment itself. This is likely to depend on the extent of mechanical sanitization of equipment between patients, and on the hygiene-functions of the unit itself. Finndent units run a minimized risk of cross-contamination due to our elaborate testing processes that guarantee working safety measures. These processes decrease cross-contamination between patients – from the dental unit point of view.
- Lastly, as with any contained space with many individuals in it – a possibility of contamination runs each time we encounter people close by enough. Therefore, many clinics take less patients in per day. Social distancing rules apply at clinics, and many have limited the use of waiting areas by spreading time slots between patients over longer periods of time. Moreover, protective gear of the staff and enhanced hygiene procedures are in use as well. As a more recent option, remote dental appointments have shown positive results in a study in Finland. For certain procedures, like teeth straightening, the possibility of having a remote appointment seems to be sufficient in decreasing the amount of times a patient needs to visit the dental clinic. Through analyzing pictures and giving on-the-phone guidance, dentists are able to help patients when it comes to certain procedures. However, data-protection, up-to-date technological equipment and network connections should be sound in order to provide remote dental appointments professionally. Moreover, this seemingly good option still needs testing and learning from, as it is a fundamental change to how dental work classically operates.
There are a number of measures that dental clinics can take to ensure safe handling of patients. Regular check-up appointments is for the benefit of our oral health as well as our overall health. Hence, continuing to visit the dental offices at the times of pandemic is not only supporting dental businesses, but is also a beneficial way to prevent health problems that can make us vulnerable to viruses.
For us at Finndent it is important to assure our clients the safest units out there. Give us a call or send us a message to talk more about how we can help you: Finndent.com/contact
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2)Tilander, A., (2020). Hammaslääkärin etätyölle on paikkansa. Retrieved from https://www.hammaslaakarilehti.fi/fi/uutinen/hammaslaakarin-etatyolle-paikkansa
3) Is it safe to visit the dentist during the pandemic? Retrieved from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-07-safe-dentist-pandemic.html
4) Dave, M., Goulao, B., Wilson, G., (2020). After lockdown: what you can expect when you go to the dentist. Retrieved from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-06-lockdown-dentist.html
5) Goetze, E., (2020). COVID-19 restrictions on dentists prompt warning to ‘step up your oral hygiene’. Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-31/coronavirus-can-i-go-to-the-dentist-saliva-blood-covid-19/12105738