As we enter into a new phase of this global pandemic, we are starting to recognize the impact COVID-19 is having on our long-term health. Scientists, Doctors and Specialists from around the globe are beginning to report on trends they are seeing in patients who have had the disease and recovered but who are still experiencing a variety of symptoms. What findings, if any, are we beginning to note around teeth and oral health care? Let’s find out together!
Initial implications seem to be focused primarily on the changing role of the Dentist as a health care provider. Certainly, the practice of dentistry was one of the first to close its doors in response to COVID-19. This was done both for the safety of dental practitioners and their patients. Given in particular that dentistry results in large aerosol droplets, the patient and Doctor are in close proximity, saliva is involved and other risk factors too this move to close dental practices was prudent. Now, with Ontario in Stage Three, most Dental offices are open again but with significant changes to how we do business. Infection prevention and control, always critically important, has taken on even greater significance and a visit to your Dentist now will involve heightened screening, gowns, gloves and face shields, less “swirling and spitting” and greater separation between patients and doctors and between patients in waiting rooms – to name just a few. This will mean potentially fewer patients seen on a daily basis and potentially a rise in emergency cases where folks who were unable to see a Dentist during the height of closures, found their oral health concerns worsening.
Certainly, we know too that a lack of preventative oral health care over the short term will definitely have an impact on patient health over the longer term. Folks who have been unable to attend at a dental office are only prolonging the inevitable. A small cavity can turn into a large one and a larger cavity into a potential root canal. We understand that many are still a little reluctant to venture out even for much needed grocery items, never mind dental visits but the team here at Brinkley Dental are ready to assure you every step of the way that both your safety and ours is top of mind. If you have anything you feel is “off” when it comes to your teeth, mouth and gums, we urge you to contact us and make an appointment today!
As for the issue of whether COVID-19 itself has a long-term impact on oral health care, the reality is that it’s a bit too soon to tell. In a recently published article in The Lancet, Infectious Diseases, the findings to date are quoted as “scant” and that Doctors “do not know what to tell … patients.” Some of the findings that have been reported include extreme fatigue months after diagnosis, hair loss, muscle pain, possible cardiac issues, brain “fog”, pins and needles feelings in the arms and legs and even ringing in the ears. All distressing symptoms no doubt, whether short or long term!
As for oral health, it seems at the moment, there is no evidence to suggest a link between COVID-19 and long-term oral health care issues outside of those that are obvious based on the delay of treatment of already existing problems. Like so much else about COVID however, it’s probably too soon to be making blanket statements like this. What we do feel comfortable saying is this: we are able to offer a high level of assurance to both new and returning patients that your oral health care – in addition to your overall health and safety – is of the utmost importance to our team. Please don’t delay treatment and if you are in pain, contact the team at Brinkley Dental in Brampton today. In the meantime, as always, “don’t forget to be a BFF with your mouth and brush that smile!”