Coronavirus has hit the dental industry hard.
Now, the World Health Organization (WHO) is encouraging people to avoid dental visits and dentists are unhappy.
Here’s why there’s drama
Dentists agreed to shut business for two months during initial “stay home, word safe” orders. Some even donated PPE to local hospitals.
Now that they're starting up again some feel world health leaders are turning against them.
WHO said “routine non-essential oral health care, which usually includes check-ups, cleanings and preventive care, be delayed until there has been sufficient reduction in COVID-19 transmission rates.”
Here in Houston, we don't have that yet, but most businesses like Terri Alani's Texas Tooth Lady dental practice, have found ways they feel safe to reopen.
“We wear the mask, we wear the protective gowns, we wear the face shields, we wear the goggles,” Alani explained.
So she, with support from the ADA, is telling the WHO they’re wrong.
How dentists are protecting patients
“Millions of Americans have been seeing dentists in the past month. It’s very safe,” Alani said. “We’ve been given very strict guidelines. Which we’ve been practicing these guidelines for the last 25 years. Let’s face it, we have been following all of the PPE protocol for a very long time to ensure the safety of our patients.”
She said it’s actually oral healthcare workers, not patients, more at risk for getting the virus in a dental office because procedures create aerosol while they’re so close to other peoples’ mouths.
In Alani’s office, she has spent a lot of money on extra safety precautions and doesn’t see multiple patients at once.
The real problem during a pandemic, according to Alani, is if patients don't come in for routine visits their overall health could decline.
“What will happen is they will accumulate a lot of tarter. They have gum disease. If you miss one of those cleanings, they can have infection, bone loss, lots of issues,” she explained.
So, she argues it is safe to go to your dentist.
Why dentists are charging more during the pandemic
One thing you should know before you go to the dentist is that due to the skyrocketing cost of PPE, the ADA has made it acceptable for dentists to pass a “PPE fee” along to patients.
Before you go, you may want to ask how much that is and check with your insurance on whether they will cover the fee. In many cases, the fee is around $10.