Teledentistry – the new type of dental appointment
Dentists agree that making sure you visit regularly is important. But making an in-person appointment during the pandemic could put your health at risk.
Dentists’ offices are a place where droplets thrive. So, when the coronavirus pandemic first hit, offices across the United States closed. Now, with more personal protective equipment, temperature checks, and very strict sanitation measures, patients can come back in.
Periodontist Dr. Mark Cohen, MomentMD, says some still don’t feel comfortable coming back. “They don’t want to sit and have their teeth cleaned because they’re afraid they’re going to pick up the virus when somebody touches them.”
To make sure people are still getting adequate dental care, Sonya Dunbar, with the American Mobile Dentistry Alliance, says many offices have turned to teledentistry.
“They can do synchronized teledentistry where the patient can hold the camera in their mouth and the dentist can be looking live at that moment,” said Dunbar. “Offices have been able to send out maybe the dental hygienist to the patient’s home to do an exam with the dentist looking on the other end.”
Delaying dental care can be risky for a patient’s health.
“A little simple filling could turn into something that needs a root canal,” said Dr. Andrew Brown, president of the Florida Dental Association. “The next step is a bad infection that could go systemically and certainly even the loss of teeth.”
Cohen says even something like gum health can be linked to other diseases. “Gum health is now linked to pancreatic cancer, pulmonary disease, Alzheimer’s, low preterm weight babies, strokes, heart attacks, and COVID,” he said.
But, if a patient does have to go into the office, dentists want them to know it is completely safe to do so. “I can also tell you how safe it is to come into the office,” said Cohen.
The Florida Dental Association says there have been no documented cases of coronavirus transmission that have stemmed from a dentist visit.