Earlier in the pandemic, the World Health Organization recommended patients delay all routine oral care due to COVID-19. As a practicing dentist and founder of a leading American dental service organization based in Pittsburgh, I strongly disagree and want to tell you why.
While I do not question the WHO’s overall motive to promote personal safety and the adoption of protective habits during this pandemic, its recommendation does not consider the following three key points that have guided and refocused dentistry since the start of the pandemic.
First, oral care is essential health care. Research has shown that poor oral health can lead to other systemic health problems and a lesser quality of life. The routine care that the WHO is recommending patients delay is often preventive care, and it is vital to both diagnose early disease to improve clinical outcomes and help patients avoid oral infections and diseases.
Second, dentists are infectious disease control experts who have implemented extraordinary new measures to provide a safe environment designed to minimize the risk for everyone. Our company, North American Dental Group (NADG), supports 432 doctors at more than 230 dental practices in 15 states, where we, along with affiliated dentists, have introduced advanced personal protective equipment for team members and enhanced infection control procedures such as frequent sanitization of treatment rooms.
Third, our patients trust us to keep them safe. In July, NADG commissioned a national survey in which 60-percent of respondents said they were comfortable visiting a dentist for a routine cleaning or check-up. In that same survey, 64-percent of respondents said they believe their dentist knows how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Dentists have not taken lightly the immense responsibility we have to protect our patients. We are confident that we can safely care for all patients during this current crisis.
DR. ANDREW MATTAMoon
The writer is founding partner and Chief Medical Officer at North American Dental Group.