Dentistry Is Essential Health Care

Dentistry Is Essential Health Care

HARRISBURG, PA — During the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been questions about whether some “routine” health care, including dental care, should be delayed.

There is never a good time to delay oral health care, and certainly not now. The Pennsylvania Dental Association and American Dental Association (ADA) continue to emphasize that oral health is an integral part of your overall health, and dentistry is essential health care.

Dentistry has a unique role in your health care because your dentist has the ability to evaluate, diagnose, prevent and treat oral disease, which impacts your systemic health. Additionally, because certain diseases may appear in the mouth first, a dentist is often diagnosing more than just a cavity. Dental professionals are trained to look for many systemic diseases when conducting your regular oral exam. For example, dental X-rays show more than just cavities; they also can point to early signs of osteoporosis.

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“When oral health is ignored or neglected, it causes any potential issue to compound and grow,” said Dr. Tamara Brady, a general dentist in Exton. “Decay gets bigger and can lead to root canals and extractions. Gingivitis and periodontitis continue destruction of the gums and bones, compromising the entire mouth and potentially leading to losing teeth.”

Both the ADA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued interim guidance related to COVID-19 for oral health professionals. The ADA’s guidance calls for a high level of PPE — including a combination of masks and goggles, or masks and face shields. That focus on PPE, along with strengthened infection controls and social distancing safeguards, has ensured that millions of patients have safely visited their dentists in recent months for the full range of oral health care services. Patients should expect that will continue as dentists and dental team members throughout the state continue to effectively implement ADA and CDC recommendations. Your dental appointments remain important.

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“Many of the minor problems in the mouth go unnoticed by the patient, but can be detected and easily fixed by the trained dentist. Letting a minor problem go for any period of time can result in a major problem, costing the patient time and money to repair,” Dr. Brady said. “It is essential that regular dental visits be maintained to minimize the possibility of additional appointments and save patients valuable money.”

The health and safety of patients is always the top priority of dental health care providers, and with robust infection control and social distancing protocols in effect, the full range of dental care will continue to be practiced safely during the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

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