The World Health Organization says put off routine visits, but the American Dental Association disagrees.
SAN ANTONIO — New guidance from the World Health Organization is advising those in the U.S. to avoid routine dental visits due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The American Dental Association swiftly pushed back this week, saying that dentist offices are safe even amid the pandemic.
San Antonio-area dentist offices, meanwhile, say they are doing everything they can to keep patients safe, including mandating the wearing of masks while you wait for your appointment and even checking your temperature as you walk in the door.
“We were already trained in hygiene school that we treat every patient as if they could potentially be having some infection,” said Ryan Martin, a registered dental hygienist with Alliance Dental Center.
“We sterilize, clean and disinfect after every patient,” added Denise Martinez, another dental hygienist with Alliance. “We are always gloved, we are always gowned and we are always wearing masks.”
At Alliance Dental Center, they’ve even upgraded their masks.
“One thing that is changed is we don’t wear our basic surgical mask anymore; we now wear the N-95s,” Martinez said.
They also wear face shields, and Martinez has been using an air purifier for an added level against COVID-19.
“It’s cleaning and purifying the air, taking all of the aerosols and bacteria and germs,” she said. “The UV light in there is killing it and then letting the clean air come out.”
A North American Dental Group survey found 71% of Americans are uncomfortable with visiting their dentist during the COVID-19 pandemic for non time-senstive procedures, while 43% have delayed a dental checkup or needed procedure, or developed a new dental issue during the pandemic. And only 42% were confident their dentist was prepared to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the office.
But Martin says it is even safer than going to a restaurant.
“You don’t take your mask off until you’re actually seated in the chair,” he said. “And once you are done with the treatment, you put the mask back on and walk up to the front.”
If you have any concerns about returning to the dentist, just call your dentist office to find out what extra precautions they are taking to keep you safe.