When Covid-19 initially broke out and dentists were advised to provide
emergency and urgent care only, there was question around whether the
droplets from aerosol generated by dental procedures would contribute to the
spread of Covid-19.
With a worldwide pandemic, we have seen a wide variety of different guidelines
and management strategies, for the same disease, which is frankly confusing.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) released a statement on August 11 2020
stating that routine dental care should be avoided, and yet, clinics within the UK
slowly began to resume providing routine oral health care since June 8, under
new measures guided by the General Dental Council and British Dental
So what’s the deal? Is it safe to go to the dentist right now?
Here’s what you need to know.
Covid-19 is not threat at the dental office
It’s important to consider that dental professionals have been highly trained with
universal standards in cross-infection control, and are used to dealing with all
kinds of viruses including HIV, hepatitis, tuberculosis and measles. Covid-19 is
yet another virus that can be managed under appropriate precautions.
Additionally, there is no evidence of transmission of Covid-19 through the
aerosol generated during dental procedures, especially since new guidelines
have been put in place for dental clinics in light of the pandemic. When reading
global information, it’s important to consider the UK’s current context and
whether the information is applicable. A statement from the FDI World Dental
Federation remarks that WHO’s considerations to delay routine oral health care
is only suggested in areas where there is intense uncontrolled community
transmission This is a situation that does not fit with most countries in the
world, including those in the UK.
Routine dental care IS an essential service
Dental care is essential to overall health, and the idea that this should be delayed
contradicts the very nature of doing what’s best for our wellbeing. Sure there are
dental emergencies which may cause pain, but most dental disease is not actually
symptomatic and that’s why routine check-ups and cleanings are so important.
In addition, things like mouth cancers not being detected by routine examination
means that these can progress unknowingly, and can have a devastating impact
on people’s lives. In delaying dental treatment and preventative care, diseases
such as gum disease and dental decay can get worse and result in more
expensive and extensive dental treatment. Dental disease doesn’t stop just
because there’s Covid-19, and therefore, oral health care IS essential and should
be continued even during pandemics as long as appropriate measures are being
Going to the dentist won’t be exactly the way it was before
Things might look a little different when you visit a dental practice now. With the
new measures, you can expect screening questions, new social distancing rules
and hygiene rules, significantly more personal protective equipment (PPE) worn
by the dental team, and fewer available appointments to accommodate for social
distancing in between patients. With some of the strictest cross-infection control
procedures in place, you can rest assured that visiting a dental practice is
actually one of the safest places to go right now.