March of 2021 marks one year since we have been dealing with the COVID 19 pandemic here in the U.S. And while it’s true that effective vaccines have been developed and are currently being administered to Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals throughout our country, it will take some time before an adequate number of people will be vaccinated in order to achieve any kind of herd immunity. The numerous variants of the virus – some of which appear to be much more contagious – pose even more questions and uncertainties with regard to how much we should return to any type of normalcy in our daily lives. So it should come as no surprise that many people are wondering whether or not it’s safe to visit the dentist.
Early on in the COVID 19 pandemic, many dental offices closed their doors entirely, only to open them a short time later for emergency procedures only. But by May of 2020, after researchers and health professionals learned more about the virus, most dental offices were open for all types of procedures. While visiting the dentist may sound like a risky activity, the fact is that the rate of viral transmission inside dentists’ offices is remarkably low. This is likely due to dental practices taking all recommended precautions and following protocols to the letter with regard to their employees wearing masks and other PPE, in addition to extreme cleaning measures being performed inside the offices on a regular basis. Now that vaccinations have begun, most dentists and their staffs have already received their vaccines – yet another indication that the risk involved in visiting your dentist is extremely low.
You should also remember the importance of visiting your dentist routinely for professional cleanings and oral exams. No matter how diligent you are in your daily oral hygiene routine at home, you’ll never be able to remove the plaque and tartar buildup that a trained hygienist can. And it doesn’t take long before that buildup can lead to tooth decay or – even worse – gum disease. Remember also that your dentist is likely to perform an oral cancer exam during your routine trip to his or her office. Most instances of this type of cancer can be effectively treated, but only if they’re detected in the early stages. And due to the nature of the disease, you may not realize that anything is wrong until the condition has advanced to a stage where significant treatment measure are required to resolve it.
So there’s no need to postpone your dental visit due to COVID 19. Simply follow your dentist’s protocols by wearing a mask when entering and leaving the office, respecting social distancing while in the waiting room and/or waiting in the parking lot until you’re notified that you can enter the building, etc. If you are in a high risk category and have not yet received your vaccine, call your dentist’s office ahead of time and ask for their recommendations.