Covid-19 has changed the world as we know it, and we have had to adapt our ways almost overnight. Even amongst all the stress and uncertainty, we need to make sure we make our health a top priority during this time. This includes our dental health. At the beginning of the pandemic, all dentists closed their doors. Even though many are up and running now, due to the nature of the work carried out there, dental practices are still a high-risk area, so you need to make sure you take the necessary precautions before you go to the dentist.
Dental practices are high-risk areas because covid-19 contaminates the saliva droplets of an infected individual. If these droplets make it into someone’s eyes, mouth or nose, they will be infected with the virus. In a dentist office, a large volume of saliva droplets is created and the instruments they use are also subject to transmitting infection. When some of the instruments are used, saliva and water can splash out onto surfaces and will be released into the air. These droplets can remain in the air for hours at a time, so even if the equipment, chair, handles and surfaces are thoroughly cleaned, the air may not be safe.
Wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) and cleaning the practices thoroughly is the first step to ensuring patient safety. This is because it will reduce the risk of covid-19 transmission to the staff in the dental practice, which will stop them from spreading the virus to the patients. Another thing dental practices can do is keep the waiting area empty or reduce the number of people who are allowed to sit in there. This will make it easier to enforce social distancing and reduce the risk of the virus spreading to patients in a closed space. In the reception area, many dental practices are looking to put up sneeze guards, as this offers reassurance if you are coming into contact with others.
Given the recent spread and destruction of covid-19, many experts are telling people to only visit the dentist if they are experiencing pain or it is classed as an emergency. Even though many dental practices are safe, putting yourself at risk for a routine dental check-up or cleaning is not worthwhile. If you need to visit the dentist, there are things that you can do to ensure your safety. Firstly, you should speak to the receptionist about the precautions they have put in place. You should only go in if you are healthy enough to do so. Check that they will contact you if an infected individual has visited the practice. Finally, you should wear your own PPE, like a face mask, during your visit.
To summarize, going to a dental practice is high-risk while transmission of covid-19 is still high. However, if you need to go in for an emergency appointment, then you should not put it off, as there are things that you and your dental practice can do to reduce your risk of catching this invisible killer.