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While Covid evolves, routine dental care remains safe: What to know before you go

By Insurance Industry Expert & Author
Updated on

We hope all of you and your families are enjoying a healthy and safe summer! As everyone knows, the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted nearly every part of our lives, and dentists have altered their practices as a result. Currently, vaccinations against the virus are trailing behind recommended levels. In addition, the virus continues to mutate and spread. As a result, guidelines for mask-wearing and social distancing – even for those who have been vaccinated – are again changing in many areas of the US. So, should you be concerned about visiting the dentist?

Probably not. According to American Dental Association (ADA) President Daniel J. Klemmedson, D.D.S., M.D, studies showing a “very low COVID-19 infection rate for dentists and dental hygienists prove that dental practices are safe workplaces.”

For example, in October 2020, the ADA published results of a study that found the COVID-19 rate among dentists was less than 1% . The study was conducted by the American Dental Association Science & Research Institute and Health Policy Institute study. "This is very good news for dentists and patients," said Dr. Marcelo Araujo, Ph.D., the ADA’s chief science officer. "This means that what dentists are doing — heightened infection control and increased attention to patient and dental team safety — is working." In addition, “it’s helping to keep the dental team and their patients as safe as possible," Araujo said.

In addition, study results published in February 2021 showed that only 3.1% of dental hygienists have had COVID-19. According to the report, “This is in alignment with the cumulative infection prevalence rate among dentists and far below that of other health professionals in the U.S.”

Together, these studies indicate that a routine trip to the dentist is now considered to be relatively safe, and patients should certainly not delay critical dental services.

Dentistry is Essential Health Care

Government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency have acknowledged dentistry as an essential service, ADA News reported in August 2020. According to ADA President Chad P. Gehani, "dentistry is an essential service. Whether it's the current pandemic, a future epidemic or a natural disaster in a particular area, [the ADA] recognizes the need for people to be able to continue to access the full range of dental services."

According to the ADA, you should contact your dentist if you are experiencing any of the following:

Don’t Delay Urgent Dental Care

  • Bleeding that does not stop
  • Painful swelling in or around your mouth
  • Pain in a tooth, teeth, or jawbone
  • Gum infection with pain or swelling
  • After surgery treatment (dressing change, stitch removal)
  • Broken or knocked out tooth

What to Expect if You Visit the Dentist

If your dentist is able to see you, what can you expect? Dentists will have their own procedures for dealing with patients during this time.

To ensure everyone’s safety and continued health, be sure you understand your dentist’s policies and procedures. For example, here are some questions you may want to ask the dentist before your appointment:

  • What, if any, special practices and procedures are you using to protect patients and staff at this time?
  • Should I plan to arrive early or to wait in my car to avoid spending extra time in the reception area?
  • How will we maintain social distancing during my appointment?
  • Will you be able to see me even if I have traveled internationally in the last 14 days or been in close contact with another person who’s been diagnosed with or is under investigation for COVID-19?
  • Is there anything special I need to do – or do differently – before or after my appointment?

Tips and Reminders for Maintaining Your Oral Health

Our team at DentalInsurance.com would like to share the following tips and guidance for maintaining oral health during these extraordinary times. We recommend the following practices at home to help avoid emergency dental issues.

  • Continue to brush your teeth twice daily and floss at least once a day
  • Use mouthwash, soft picks, and water flossers to help reduce plaque
  • Avoid sticky, sugary foods, which can cause decay
  • Use caution when eating hard foods, which can cause tooth fracture
  • Clean your toothbrush thoroughly after each use

Maintaining good oral hygiene during these times is not just about protecting your teeth. It is also important for boosting immunity and fighting the virus.

As the vaccines continue to be administered, there is cause for real, tangible hope that the worst of this pandemic will soon be behind us. Nevertheless, we need to hang on and remain vigilant to help ensure a strong and lasting recovery.

Please, stay healthy and safe!