Can I still go to the dentist? How coronavirus is changing the way we look after our teeth
The coronavirus pandemic is changing the way we access health care, and dental care is no exception. Dentists are no longer allowed to provide a raft of care, such as regular check-ups and tooth whitening, to minimise the spread of COVID-19. However, if you’re in a lot of pain, your dentist will be able to treat you.
Why are these restrictions in place?
When dentists work on your teeth, they can produce aerosols – droplets or sprays of saliva or blood – in the air.
This happens routinely when your dentist uses a drill or when scaling and polishing, for instance.
And dentists are used to following stringent infection control precautions under normal circumstances to lower the risk of transmission of infectious diseases, whether they are respiratory diseases or blood-borne.
These precautions help keep both patients and dentists safe because it assumes all patients may have an infection, despite the reality that most won’t.
But with the coronavirus pandemic, there is an increased risk of aerosols carrying the virus either directly infecting dental staff, or landing on surfaces, which staff or the next patient can touch.
This transmission may be possible even if you feel perfectly well, as not everyone with the virus has symptoms.