I scheduled dental appointments for my kids six months ago. Who would have known things would get so crazy? I checked with them today and they say they’re still open and seeing patients but taking them makes me a bit uneasy. Their schools are closed. Daycares are closed. I know this is a bit different because it’s health-related and necessary. At the same time, I don’t want to risk exposure. What’s the general guideline here?
These sure are different times! Here’s some general info.
Stay Home if You’re Sick
If anyone in your household has a COVID-19 diagnosis, health authorities say you should self-quarantine. You should also stay home if you or any of the children appear to be sick. I would also add if you know you’ve been exposed to also stay home. You can be asymptomatic for up to 14 days.
Watch for the Latest from Health Authorities
As of right now, the CDC says it’s best to forego any elective and non-urgent care. However, this is a rapidly developing story and what you hear right now might not be the latest information as of tonight, let alone tomorrow. Keep an eye on what the health authorities are saying and base your decisions on that. Most governors are giving daily updates, so check that.
Work with Your Children’s Dentist to Identify What’s “Urgent”
Now may not be the best time to go in for things like teeth whitening or other cosmetic dentistry treatments, but chances are your kids were scheduled for their routine cleanings and checkups. If everything was in the clear on their last visit and they’re not complaining of any issues, these visits probably would not be considered “urgent.”
However, things like toothaches, repairing damaged teeth, and similar issues would be. Equally, if they fit into a high-risk group for cavities, it might be better to have them checked out now as well. Talk to your pediatric dentist to see if he or she feels their visits can wait. He knows them best and is following COVID-19 situation too, so that’s the best source for personalized information. He wouldn’t put himself and his staff at risk if it weren’t an important appointment.
If You Have Additional Concerns, Ask Your Care Provider
The reality is, your dental provider should already have robust infection control procedures in place. All equipment that might be exposed to pathogens either receives a barrier or is sterilized between patients. It’s standard protocol given the nature of treatment. If your pediatric dentist is open at this time and recommends that you go in, you should feel comfortable knowing that the team has been trained in infection control and follows specific protocol all the time to minimize risk of transfer. They are likely taking additional precautions right now too. However, if you have more concerns about how COVID-19 will impact your children’s dental care, touch base with your provider.
High Risk Conditions
One condition which is considered high-risk during this situation is asthma. If you have a child who is an asthmatic, I wouldn’t go unless there was a tooth infection. Most children who contract COVID-19 are fine. However, children with respiratory issues have a much greater risk of complications. It’s not worth the risk.
This blog is sponsored by Hunstville Dentist Dr. Steve Murphree.
Dr. Murphree’s office follows all the infection control guidelines of the American Dental Association and the Alabama Department of Public Health for the dental setting, including updates for combatting the spread of the coronavirus.