What to do

Posted by watchmen
November 26, 2020
Posted in OPINION

Not going to the dentist. Is this the new normal? 

It sound counter-intuitive, especially since dentists have been highly recommending that dental visits should be regular, at least twice a year, to prevent the start of tooth decay and gum disease.

It sounds like the new normal though in the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Health Organization recommends, for example, that “routine nonessential oral healthcare — which usually includes oral health checkups, dental cleanings and preventive care — be delayed until there has been sufficient reduction in COVID-19 transmission rates.”

In response, the American Dental Association (ADA) “respectfully yet strongly’’ said it disagrees with the guidance from the highest health care body of the United Nations.

“Oral health is integral to overall health,” said Dr. Chad P. Gehani, ADA President. “Dentistry is essential healthcare because of its role in evaluating, diagnosing, preventing or treating oral diseases, which can affect systemic health.”

So what to do?

I say we follow the advice of public health authorities – as in wearing face masks and shields; maintaining the proper physical distancing; washing hands frequently; covering the nose and mouth when we sneeze and cough; avoiding large gatherings; keeping fit and healthy; going out of the house only when necessary and maybe not at all for senior citizens and the those in their teenage years and below; and so on.

Then again, it is also best not to neglect your oral health. The key here is that prevention is better than cure.

That is, brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day or – ideally – after every meal.

If you feel, for example, that the toothache has become unbearable, then it is perhaps best to seek professional care from your dentist.

The Philippine Dental Association has issued strict health protocols that Filipino dentists must and should follow to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

These include temperature checks and interviews prior to dental appointments, the wearing of Personal Protective Equipment by the dentist and the dental staff, and so many other protocols all designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Even in general health care, protocols are followed. For example, appointments are spaced in such a way to provide distance between attending to patients. This is true also in dental clinics which are required to disinfect work areas after each and every patient.

It is fair to say that going to dental clinics for very necessary attention from the dentist is safe these days. If you think that a professional attention is required, do visit the dentist – to avoid unnecessary and may even emergency procedures when the oral condition has worsened.

Rest assured that safety protocols are being followed to protect both patients and the dentist and the dental staff.

As in life, there is a bit of a risk in everything, well, risky. As in going to a health care facility where the potential of an infection lurks.

Dentists, doctors and health care givers know the risks involve and are taking all the precautions known to science to protect the patient – and the health care staff as well, including dentists.



Dr. Joseph D. Lim is the former Associate Dean of the UE College of Dentistry, former Dean of the College of Dentistry, National University, past president and honorary fellow of the Asian Oral Implant Academy, and honorary fellow of the Japan College of Oral Implantologists. Honorary Life Member of Thai Association of Dental Implantology. For questions on dental health, e-mail or text 0917-8591515./WDJ

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