Covid-19 Dental Questions Continued

Q: Are there any personal protocols that patients should practice?

Dr. Frank: Most people are constantly thinking and even worrying about what is their new normal in this time of COVID-19. And bringing it back to the day-to-day home care that you could be doing for your oral health, there’s not much that you really have to change. Big thing is just keeping oral care top of mind still. Brushing twice a day 2 minutes for each time you’re brushing, flossing, yes, we still need to floss even during COVID-19 it’s going to be extremely important. There are other rinses, there are other mouthwashes that can help but it’s about staying on top of your daily routine especially in light of the fact that we’re limited on the routine care that we can offer right now during some of the shelter in place and other restrictions placed on health care facilities.

Q: Do you think based on the difference in those tested versus the population, that eventually everyone had contacted COVID-19 virus?

Dr. Frank: There’s still a lot of uncertainty with COVID-19 and some of the most urgent uncertainty is who actually has the disease, who is asymptomatic, who could be spreading to others, what is the likelihood of this curve going down and more importantly are the tests that we have nationwide adequate enough for us to really have a good handle on these numbers.

In Texas specifically, Houston has a population of about 7 million people of that only about 13,000 are actually confirmed cases. It’s quite a disparity in the numbers. I’m not an epidemiologist so I don’t know for sure how well our numbers are truly reflective of the true cases. It’s only speculative and more importantly it’s probably just going to be more rabble rousing and fear mongering about whether or not we will all get this disease but what I can tell you is that simple things daily about washing your hands, taking care of your own personal and oral hygiene, using appropriate CDC protocols that aren’t only for health care providers but also for just day-to-day life interactions is really going to help.

The shelter in place, I think, has had a big impact I wouldn’t begin to start speculating weather or not we’ll see a bump and a spike up come the end of the summer, but I do know if we stayed deliberate and we stay persistent in our efforts just to keep this awareness and actually take care of one another. Look out for those who may be more susceptible to this and if you do have poor immune or compromised positions maybe using appropriate judgement calls about how much you should interact will be your safest way, not only to help prevent spreading the further amount of the disease but also just giving yourselves a little bit more of peace of mind that we’re all going to be OK when this all works its way through.

Q: When will I be able to see my dentist again for routine care?

Dr. Frank: As a health care provider and dentist specifically, I’m often asked about what is my personal biggest concern about COVID-19 and its impact on dentistry. And frankly that comes down to how long people are having to wait to come to the dentist. The longer we wait on preventive care the longer we wait on the timeliness of our routine visits, the more likely dental disease will progress. Progression that could have been intercepted months prior, progression that will turn into more invasive and, unfortunately, even costly, more treatments. We do not want to make dentistry even more of a barrier through fear and through cost and my concern is the longer we continued to wait with allowing patients back in for their routine oral health the more damage that may incur in their mouth as a result.

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