LOS ANGELES, May 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite recent polling which shows deep anxiety among Americans about returning to a dentist during the COVID-19 outbreak, infection control is more stringent than ever at the majority of dental offices according to Dr. Joel Strom, a former President of The Dental Board of California and one of California's most respected dentists.
A guest on Your World with Neil Cavuto on Fox News Channel recently said she "would stay away from the dentist for the next six months" in response to questioning from Cavuto about places to avoid as states relax shelter-in-place mandates implemented in mid-March. "Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to hear baseless commentary which gives an unsafe impression about dentists," said Dr. Strom, Founder of Beverly Hills Complete Dentistry.
"The dental profession has long been at the forefront of patient safety. But dubious media reports and the uncertainty about this new virus are chipping away at public comfort."
A recent poll conducted by the North American Dental Group, one of America's most-respected dental service organizations, showed:
-71% of Americans are uncomfortable with visiting their dentist during the COVID-19 pandemic for non time-senstive procedures
-43% of Americans have either delayed a dental check-up, a needed dental procedure, or developed a new dental issue during social distancing
-42% had confidence their dentist is prepared to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at their office
Nearly 40 years ago, while scientists were trying to sort out the public health truths of HIV, media reports effectively caused similar poll results in the general dental population. "Patients stayed away and dental practices faced heavy cancelations, most of which turned out to be unnecessary and deleterious to patient health," said Dr. Strom.
Nonetheless, with the HIV epidemic serving as a catalyst, dental professional organizations took prompt action, led by The California Dental Association, The Los Angeles Dental Society and The Dental Board of California. The profession updated infection control guidelines and created advanced protocols to further ensure the dental office was cleaner and safer than most workplaces or public spaces.
As dentists nationwide get back to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, patients should expect some, if not all, of these safety enhancements:
- Improved water filtration and disinfection procedures designed to reduce bacteria and capture droplets and aerosols
- Enhanced counter disinfection solutions
- Plastic face shields and longer disposable gowns in addition to the traditional personal protection equipment long worn by dental staff
- Pre-treatment temperature readings and antiseptic mouthrinses for staff and patients
- More disposable supplies/equipment used for treatment
Americans are being advised to take precautions when they go into public because of COVID-19, but they should know that well-maintained dental offices have evolved into one of the safest, cleanest spaces in America. Dental care should not be avoided for long stretches during this pandemic, because oral health is directly linked to your overall health. Every 15 seconds, someone visits a hospital emergency department for dental conditions in the United States according to the American Dental Association. "Protect our doctors, our first responders and our nurses," stressed Dr. Strom. "More than ever, an ER is the last place where we want someone with a cracked tooth to be receiving care."
About Dr. Joel Strom: Dr. Joel Strom is a practicing general dentist in Beverly Hills and a former President of the California State Dental Board and a past-Chairman of the California Science Center Board of Directors.
SOURCE Dr. Joel Strom