COVID-19 has impacted all of our lives in one way or another. School, work, or businesses closing, affects some indirectly, while others feel more direct effects through illness and loss. In fact, our own dental offices closed for routine procedures for several weeks. Our offices are now open and we are taking every precaution to ensure your dental safety throughout COVID-19.
Protocols are constantly being evaluated and examined for what procedures should and should not be upheld. While we cannot foresee the end of the pandemic, nor are we experts pertaining to the disease but we can offer insight related to how one should handle their dental obligations.
For Up to Date Info on our COVID-19 Policies, Read More: COVID-19 Information Page for Commonwealth Dentistry
Dental Health and the COVID-19 Connection
Newest studies suggest a strong link that hospitalized coronavirus patients with prior underlying gum disease can be higher risk for respiratory failure. This has been dubbed the “Mouth Covid Connection,” suggesting a link the bacteria in inflamed gums and bone loss, symptoms associated with periodontitis and COVID-19 complications. Gum disease can be linked to other respiratory conditions such as COPD and pneumonia, indicating it is likely to have a connection with COVID-19.
Researchers also suggest that existing dental health conditions may worsen from exposure to COVID-19. 47% of adults over 30 have some form of periodontal disease. Now researchers are linking some startling oral health conditions to the list of prolonged COVID-19 symptoms. If you are worried you may suffer from gum disease, now is the time to visit the dentist.
It is now more important than ever to take care of your oral health. Gum disease starts when plaque builds up along the gum line. This build can cause infections that to both the gums and the bones. If this condition is left untreated it will advance into periodontitis and destroy the gums, bones, and tissues that surround your teeth.
Another conundrum of the COVID-19 equation is populations that are at highest risk for COVID-19 are also at highest risk for poor dental health. There are strong links between common risk factors like stress, poor diet, and tobacco and alcohol use. During a pandemic, many factors affecting overall oral health are heightened.
Stress and Dental Health
Stress wreaks havoc on our entire body manifesting in different ways depending on the person. No one can argue that COVID-19 has not been stressful in some fashion. You may have felt the effects of stress through shoulder pain, headaches, or insomnia, but did you also know stress can affect your oral health?
Research suggests a strong association between oral health conditions like erosion, caries, and periodontal disease and mood conditions like stress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness.
Common Stress-Related Oral Conditions
- Pain amongst the jawline
- Grinding teeth or bruxism
- Cold Sores
- Oral infections or sores, which may show up as ulcers, white lines, or white or red spots.
These issues heightened by poor oral hygiene and decreased immune response. Sometimes adding one more item feels daunting when you are already pushed to the max. Therefore, patients may feel too tired, too anxious, or too stressed to add one more thing forgoing basic hygiene practices. Lack of proper oral care compounded with the fact that stress decreases our immune response creates a breeding ground for issues.
Lack of Routine
Our days lack routines because our kids aren’t in school as normal, our work hours vary, and we don’t leave as often as before. All together this creates opportunities for missed brushing, flossing, and mouth rinses.
Humans feel more comfortable when we follow a routine. These expectations and patterns allow us to keep up consistency within our daily lives. Including times when we take care of oral care. Keeping up with a routine even while at home is important for our overall health.
Stress plus a lack of routine contributes to change in our diets during this time as well. There is more snacking- including more sugar. Tobacco and alcohol use are extremely detrimental to oral health. In fact, they are the top two risk factors for oral cancer.
What You Can Do
Prevention is the cornerstone of health, doing your part to prevent issues within your mouth is paramount. Strategies to improve overall oral health include reduction of tobacco and alcohol use, eating a well balanced healthy diet, and maintaining healthy habits such as brushing and flossing.
Mitigating stress throughout this difficult time is hard for all of us. Feeling that the proper thing is confusing at times. Missing events with family and friends are disheartening. Try getting creative with ways that encourage stress relief.
- Get Outside– Sunlight is an important ingredient of our emotional and physical health. Exposure to sunlight helps our body create Vitamin D because Vitamin D aids in the absorption of Calcium it is vital in maintaining strong healthy teeth. Visit one of Richmond’s outdoor trails and parks.
- Stay in a Routine– Brushing your teeth can feel invigorating in the morning and also calming at night. Keeping these as part of wake up and wind-down routine.
- Eat at Scheduled Times– Keeping in a routine with balanced and healthy meals will help cut back on the intake of snacks
- Incorporate Ways to De-stress– If you feel yourself clenching your teeth, try taking a few calming breaths, a short walk, or listening to mindful music to help you calm.
- Talk to Someone– If you are experiencing any issues seek a medical professional help
- We are Here for You– If you notice any changes in your oral health give any of our locations a call or schedule an appointment online.
What We are Doing to Ensure Your Dental Safety
Dental safety should not be another contributing factor to your stress level. At Commonwealth Dentistry, we want you to feel comfortable and safe. We will be taking additional dental safety precautions for our team and our patients to ensure the safety and health of everyone that walks through our doors. Below are the specific safety measures that our patients should be aware of before arriving for their appointment:
Dental Safety Measures at Commonwealth Dentistry
- Hand sanitizer and Hand Soap– both are readily available for use throughout the office
- Car Waiting– If you prefer to wait in your car, please call the office when you arrive. We will bring all the necessary paperwork to you.
- Screening– All patients and staff will have their temperature taking upon arrival. No admittance into our facilities with a temperature of 100.4 or greater.
- Decreasing Aerosoles – We will be using a dental technology called the Isolite in some of our dental procedures, this eliminates airborne aerosols by over 90%.
- PPE– Our team will be using the appropriate PPE including gloves, masks, and face shields.
- Pre-procedural Mouth Rinse– Everyone will complete this mouth rinse prior to their visit. COVID-19 is vulnerable to oxidation, any mouth rinse containing oxidative agents such as 1% hydrogen peroxide or .2% povidone is recommended to reduce the salivary load of oral microbes, including potential COVID.
- Limiting Numbers– We will be limiting the number of people inside our facilities
- Professional Cleaning– We are utilizing a professional cleaning company to disinfect all surfaces in our office with an electrostatic fogger. This two-step process, utilized by airlines and hospitals, sterilizes the surfaces and wraps around objects and surfaces providing a protective coating. You will not be able to see, feel, or smell the product. If a person touches an object or surface the disinfectant will kill viruses and bacteria on contact.
Dental Safety is and has always been our office goal. We understanding that navigating through these challenging times is hard. Please know that we will do everything in our power to ensure your dental safety.