Until February 2020, your dentists were reminding you and encouraging you to come for checkups and treatments, and suddenly it stopped. Some of them were the first to recognise and understand that problem days are ahead and got their red flags up.
When the world authorities like WHO and CDC came up with public health guidelines asking everyone to maintain six feet distance and wear masks along with understanding of aerosol being the main source of transmission, dentists knew that none of that was possible to comply fully in dentistry. As we had to ask our patients to take off their masks, come almost six inches near and most of the machines we used created aerosol, dentistry worldwide was utterly confused and concerned about the future care of our patients.
Recently, the guidelines for safer practice of dentistry by international authorities finally came and some of us in Nepal are already practicing that fully. As dentistry produces aerosol, proper ventilation of the operating room is mandatory. Besides all the PPE, one patient at a time along with all the infection control measures, including negative pressure is ideal.
Common Problems & Solutions:
Grinding/Clenching and fractured teeth
We have observed a massive increase in fractured teeth or fillings mostly due to people grinding or clenching teeth due to the added stress of the pandemic. This needs to be addressed immediately if there are sharp edges cutting your cheek or tongue, severely sensitive, painful teeth or you have difficulty in eating. You may need a night guard. Yoga and meditation is highly recommended.
Many of us have been eating lots of fruits and lemon juice to build our immunity, and that is the right thing to do. But they are highly acidic and erode teeth. We must flush our mouth with water every time after eating or drinking anything. It will not only help in neutralising acid, but also clean our mouth.
Incorrect foods and drinks
Packed instant food, sugar and acidic drinks are detrimental to our health. Cavities and gum diseases that are created in our mouth are indicators of something wrong in our diet and lack of personal hygiene. Avoid food that are harmful to our mouth and to the entire body’s health. After all, mouth is a gateway to our body and anything wrong here will cause disease somewhere else.
Cavities and Gum Disease
Give utmost care by brushing properly at night, flossing between your teeth and flushing mouth with plain water after every food or drink. Remember, dental diseases are completely preventable if you do your home care properly.
We have all been eating and drinking all the coloured food and turmeric more often than before and our teeth are getting stained. We are forever on Zoom, Instagram or other video communication modes and constantly seeing our teeth, we may be getting conscious. You may need to get it polished by a dentist and if possible do some whitening.
Lack of preventive measures
Regular preventive treatment by your dentist such as checkups, cleaning (hand scaling), sealants, braces and fluoride can be carried out without generating aerosol. You must ensure that the dentist is following all the protocols to prevent you from getting Covid 19.
So, what should I do if I have a problem in my mouth?
• Take a photo of the problem area yourself.
• Send a message by Viber, WhatsApp, Messenger describing your problem and the photo of the problem to the dentist or the dental team.
• Video Chat with the dentist describing all your problems in full honesty. S/he will guide you regarding the need of your treatment and create a treatment plan for you. It may be in the form of an advice or medication or the appointment will be scheduled for treatment.
• At the height of the pandemic when hospital beds are full, all non-urgent treatment needs to be postponed. Above 65 or with pre-existing medical conditions, treat only if it is absolutely necessary and as a first appointment to reduce exposure.
• You will be asked about your Covid history. Please answer honestly.
• Please be aware of all the new protocols in place prior to your arrival at the clinic.
• Accompanying person will not be allowed inside the clinic unless you are elderly or very young.
• As the treatment is already planned over the phone, dentist will start the treatment in a short duration taking all precautions and try to minimise your exposure time in the clinic as low as possible. This is to keep you, staff and the dentist safe.
• Make sure your dentist is a registered practitioner with a license from Nepal Medical Council. Check their credentials at https://nmc.org.np