Dental care is at the top of the list of children’s unmet healthcare needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association.

These risks are higher for children whose parents have lost a job or income. I believe we are experiencing similar findings in The Bahamas.

During this extended Covid period, dental care coupled with good oral habits are key factors in protecting and enhancing your overall health.

In this column, we will discuss the critical importance of visiting a dentist and practicing good oral care. Preventive care and proper hygiene education can save your life.

Covid has created long standing fears throughout our communities. Most of these fears come from ignorance, not knowing the full story about Covid-19 and chronic diseases. Today, the Covid story is still developing yet we are more confident in our ability to protect ourselves and protect the people under our care.

So, is it safe to go to the dentist? Absolutely YES!

Many persons are still allowing the fear of “catching Covid” to influence them to stay away and avoid dental visits. Many believe that staying away from the dentist or hygienist somehow protects them from contracting Covid. Unfortunately, it makes matters worse. Your immune system could become weakened and expose you to a wider array of infections when proper oral care is neglected.

In many dental offices throughout the world, we are seeing more aggressive periodontal disease and rampant cavities. Most of these cases are the result of neglect from poor oral habits along with the avoidance of a dental visit. This combination is dangerous.

During the Covid restricted period snacking with sugary and fatty foods are more common. We have become more sedentary because many persons are at home where food is often a few feet away. In our homes where we tend to be comfortable and relaxed, a high salt and sugar-based foods and snacks become more appealing. These foods serve as “comfort foods” in that they temporarily make us feel better. There is an emotional attachment to the consumption of these foods especially during stressful periods.

Also, many persons practice poor oral hygiene habits by going directly to bed or napping without first brushing their teeth. This practice is the single biggest cause of rotting teeth, aggressive gum diseases and stressed immune systems.

Unfortunately, what makes matters more challenging are individual and family financial demands. This also results in delayed dental visits.

See your Dental Provider. Here are several reasons:

  1. You can trust your dentist and our profession to protect you from cross contamination of bacteria or viruses. Studies show that transmission of any virus or disease among dentists is as low as 1%. This percentage is among the lowest in the world. This is because our preparations and intense focus on sterilization and sanitization became in focus since the 1980’s. The results of this effort is greater protection for our patients and ourselves. During the AIDs epidemic and Ebola we made important adjustments and the public benefited.
  2. Dentists should address your concerns by show and tell. We will show you what was done since Covid-19 started and tell of the additional equipment, PPEs and best practice standards we have implemented. The public at large should feel quite comfortable visiting their dentist today.
  3. Gum disease and cavities can result in high levels of bacteria and virus in the blood. This is called a bacteremia or viremia. In a worse-case scenario, some infections progress to what is called a septicemia, which can be fatal. This places extreme demands on your immune system. The result can be a Covid infection, or/and other medical conditions, like heart disease, diabetes, pneumonia and low birth weight babies.

Patients should do the following especially during the Covid period:

  1. Get informed. Educate yourself and ask questions for further understanding.
  2. Focus on prevention as a way to boost and protect your immune system.
  3. Visit a dentist of your choice. Ask to show and tell of office changes since Covid-19.
  4. Manage your sugar intake. Brush or at least rinse your mouth out with water after eating.
  5. Use a fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse, especially to strengthen the teeth of children.
  6. Speak candidly with your dentist about payment plans to manage the financing of your dental work.
  7. Establish a habit of practicing good prevention habits like brushing and flossing especially before bedtime.

Remember, prevention is less expensive in the short and long term than cure. Dental diseases expose one to infections with the Covid-19 virus as well as other medical ailments.

Good dental health is the first step toward overall health and wellness.

Dr. Kendal V. O. Major is Founder and CEO of Center for Specialized Dentistry which is a comprehensive family dental practice operating in Nassau and Freeport. He is the first Bahamian Specialist in gum diseases and dental implants since 1989. He also is a certified Fastbraces provider. His practice is located at 89 Collins Avenue, Nassau at (242)325-5165 or [email protected]

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