Coronavirus and Dentistry: Tips and Hints
The term “Coronavirus” is not only spreading physically but also mentally, with the uncertainty revolving around the disease, it’s been impacting not only the economic world but the social world. To understand what it is and the implications it has not only the dental world, but to you as well, we need to know what Covid-19 is. Hopefully this will answer some questions and ease the mind.
This is the newly found novel (meaning never been experienced by the human species) virus that belongs to the coronavirus family.
The coronavirus family is the umbrella term for all the viruses that have a similar make up. You can think of coronavirus as “humans” whilst COVID-19 could be ethnicity, to make it easier to understand. There are many types of coronavirus’ and even the common cold is a type of coronavirus.
Why is it so deadly?
COVID—19 has been so menacing since the human body has never experienced this type of virus. The reason why this is so important is because your immune system is built on ‘memory’ and since it is so new the body doesn’t know how to react, unlike the common cold which we have basically grown up with.
This is the same as the SARS virus but to a much greater extent. The SARS virus is also a part of the coronavirus family but as with all family members, they are a bit different.
How is it transmitted?
The virus is primarily transmitted via droplets, meaning through little particles of water (such as your spit) that then directly touch your mouth, nose or even your eyes.
This means when someone sneezes or coughs their little saliva droplets can fall onto a surface, such as a desk, handrail or fuel pump (those things are filthy!) which then you touch and the next time you touch your face you are at a risk of getting it.
This also means that if you stand too close (sorry no loving hugs anymore) they can sneeze or spit on you and potentially infect you that way as well. This is why we have the social distancing rules since a person can only spit so far!
Because of all that we need to always wash our hands and sanitise with at least 70% alcohol before touching our faces or personal properties.
Impact on dentistry
Since we all know the new social restrictions that has been placed, not many know the impact on oral health! So how does this all affect the dental world and your treatment?
Essentially dentistry is categorised as a high risk due to the generation of those droplets we talked about before. Each time we use the drill it releases lots of water and if it contacts the saliva it can eject it out into the room. This means we have now stopped lots of routine treatment!
What has now been stopped?
The specifics are quite numerous but to simplify things for you it is essentially the ones as follows:
- Routine check ups (the 3—6monthly checks that we have to ensure your will always have those sparkly teeth)
- Cleans with our Ultrasonic cleaners (the ones that make the buzzing noise and uses water)
- Majority of cosmetic work (unless there has been an emergency involving the front teeth)
- Routine fillings and elective dental work
What if I have an emergency?
Fear not, even though many dental clinics have closed or have reduced hours and work, we remain open to ensure we support the greater public and ensure we are here for you in times of need!
We are still open for emergencies such as:
- Swellings and infections
- Trauma or accidents
- Suspicious lesions
We understand that many will be fearful of coming to the dentist (even more so than usual!) but we maintain the highest grade of infection control, even compared to the whole world! The Australian dental community have one of the highest levels of infection control even on a global scale. Some of the things that we are doing in our own office are
- Wiping EVERY single surface with 70% ethanol wipes after every patient and after every hour as well (even when have had no one)
- Having mouthwashes prior to any treatment
- Checking all patients temperature with our contactless temperature checker
- All staff members are forced to have their temperature checked and if they seem high are immediately sent away for investigation for at least 2 weeks
- OZONE taps (this is essentially super taps that literally kill all germs, fungi and viruses even after washing)
- Full personal protective equipment (this is what’s called PPE on the news channels) to ensure we do not spread it ourselves, families and other patients
- Additional protective measures such as Rubber Dam (literally a piece of rubber), that blocks a patients saliva if we must use aerosol generative equipment
Biggest question we always hear: DO I WEAR A MASK?
The debate on the mask situation is very complicated and has many levels to it. We are hearing very different things from very different sources. In USA they are advising EVERYONE to use a mask and in Australia we are told not to wear a mask…so who is right?
In Australia we say only wear the masks if you have the disease because it physically blocks your droplets of saliva when you talk, sneeze and cough. This means less droplets that someone can pick up by accident.
However, if you are healthy we suggest NOT to wear a mask. Why? Because I guarantee the majority of the population will keep adjusting the mask and not even wear it correctly (especially the P2 masks…they are REALLY uncomfortable). Each time you adjust, you can potentially self inoculate your face and not even know and be thinking I’m fine because I have a mask. Many of the masks you buy don’t last 20 minutes and some can even be counterfeit.
The reason we say both is because in New York, the current epic centre (at the time of writing) they have such a big rate of infection they cannot tell who does or does not have the disease. With their current status it is easier to assume everyone is a carrier and therefore everyone should wear it to stop any form of droplets going anywhere. However, this has a big impact on health professionals such as emergency doctors, nurses and allied health professionals who are in the big hospitals trying to save lives but have no PPE to protect themselves.
So please, if you can do not wear masks if you are healthy and save them for our front line works such as the nurses and doctors who are saving lives at this very moment.
Always remember, at the 7-to-7 Dentist, we care about your family and ours. Feel free to contact us on our website, email address, phone and eventually in person when the restrictions are lifted.
Stay happy, healthy and smile 😊.
(PS stayed tuned for actual tips for your oral health such as: What toothpastes to use? What toothbrushes to use? How to have a perfect smile and many more)