Dentistry: An Essential Service During COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted by Pi Dental Center on Sep 14, 2020 10:27:49 AM

Graphic "Dentistry is an essential service during pandemic"A healthy mouth is crucial to the health of the entire body. Dentistry is an Essential Service that must be available to the public at all times, especially during this pandemic. Dentistry and dentists are undervalued by the medical community and the population at large. This attitude was reflected in a recent recommendation by the World Health Organization (WHO). The American Dental Association, the American College of Prosthodontists and other major dental organizations have released statements stating that they strongly disagree with WHO. While the dental community has always practiced stringent infection control and sterilization measures, they have greatly increased these measures to ensure patient safety.

An “Essential Business” provides products or services that customers require at all times, even during pandemics, natural disasters or community unrest. These businesses are permitted to remain open, whereas those that provide products or services that are for “comfort or entertainment” rather than “necessity” may be recommended to close.

The World Health Organization (WHO) released a recommendation in August that patients should delay “routine” oral health care until there is a reduction in COVID-19 transmission rates. The last thing that people need is another reason not to go to the dentist. Well, that is exactly what the World Health Organization has done.

The fact that the health of the mouth impacts the entire body has been well documented. Research shows that there is an association between periodontal disease, tooth loss, cancer, stroke, cardiovascular disease and preterm birth. Periodontal disease can worsen lung disease and complicate diabetes. There is a link between osteoporosis and periodontal disease. Tooth loss is associated with poor nutrition and oral cancer. Read More.

The idea that you don’t need to go to the dentist unless you have a problem with a tooth is a fallacy. Tooth decay can occur in areas that are not visible. A dental examination is necessary to ensure that your teeth are healthy. Read More

Dentists identify dental conditions that contribute to serious health issues and medical health problems during oral examination. Signs of anorexia, bulimia and drug use are evident from the gum tissues and teeth. A dentist’s cone beam CT scanner can identify a range of issues from chronic sinusitis to intracranial calcifications, multiple myeloma, soft tissue masses, osteoarthritis of the temporomandibular joint, degenerative cervical spine, and narrowing of the airway. Oral cancer screenings are conducted at every oral hygiene visit. Early detection improves treatment outcomes. Dentists save lives!

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Dentists all over the country have increased their sterilization protocols. At Pi Dental Center, we have examined and updated our office practices, making improvements above and beyond those suggested by the Centers for Disease Control, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the American Dental Association. We have improved air quality, required mask wearing, provided Level-3 N-95 face masks, used face shields, conducted frequent disinfection procedures, introduced screenings and temperature checks and enforced social distancing. Read More.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have updated and reaffirmed their guidance for dental settings, which still allows for the delivery of care to patients when proper precautions and safety measures are followed.

American Dental Association:

The Dental Team is Essential. The American Dental Association (ADA) affirms that the oral health workforce is essential during public health emergencies. Government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency have already acknowledged dentistry as an essential service. Dental health is a fundamental component of a person’s overall health and dentistry is a vital health care service. Oral disease can affect systemic health. Dentistry is an essential service whether it's the current pandemic, a future epidemic or a natural disaster in a particular area. People need to be able to access the full range of dental services.

American College of Prosthodontists:

The American College of Prosthodontists (ACP) joins the American Dental Association (ADA) in respectfully yet strongly disagreeing with this WHO recommendation. We assert that dental care is an essential part of an individual’s overall health. As an organization we will continue to work with the ADA on advocacy efforts to designate dentistry as an essential service. The ACP encourages members to follow CDC, ADA, and state and local health official guidance regarding patient care.

American Academy of Periodontology:

“It is well-established science that periodontal disease and systemic disease are interconnected. As a result, establishing and maintaining healthy teeth and gums is fundamental to overall health,” said Dr. Bryan Frantz, American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) president. The AAP added there is limited evidence that dental offices pose an increased risk of spreading disease, including COVID-19.

Academy of General Dentists

The Academy of General Dentists (AGD) calls dental care an essential component of the overall healthcare model and notes that dental offices are practicing enhanced safety measures to address their patient needs during this time.

“Good oral health contributes to good overall health, and any recommendations against the continuum or oral care negatively impact dental patients,” said AGD president Connie L. White, DDS. “Delaying a dental visit may create further health issues and long-term problems.”

Oral cancer is a serious health problem and the oral hygiene/exam visit is crucial for identifying oral cancer. A delayed oral hygiene visit can mean the difference between a manageable lesion to something much more serious.

Oral health problems can actually make recovery from COVID-19 more difficult. Studies have linked gum disease to COVID-19 deaths. One study by U.S. dental surgeon Dr. Shervin Molayem and South African scientist Carla Pontes suggests COVID patients with gum disease are more susceptible to a respiratory crisis known as a cytokine storm, essentially an overreaction of the body’s immune system.

“Gum disease has been linked to other breathing ailments, including pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, so we weren’t surprised to find a link to respiratory problems with COVID-19,” Molayem said in a press release. “What shocked us was the discovery of the protein’s devastating, life-threatening impact to patients once they’re hospitalized. One tiny, inflammatory protein robbed them of their ability to breathe!”

At Pi Dental Center, we have seen evidence that gingivitis can quickly turn into periodontitis. Just since the quarantine began, we have seen tooth loss in an adolescent orthodontic patient. Patients who have missed their regularly scheduled hygiene appointments have presented with advanced caries.

Many of Pi Dental Center’s patients are in the process of completing comprehensive treatment plans. Any delay in care can lead to a setback or worsening of the patient’s dental condition.

The dental Hippocratic Oath reminds dentists that prevention is preferable to cure of disease. Shutting dentistry down during the pandemic has forced dentists to break their Hippocratic Oaths.

Dentists are essential health care workers who should be afforded early access to a safe and effective SARS-CoV-2 vaccine when one becomes available, stated ADA Executive Director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin. “There is little doubt that there will be a high demand for a safe and effective SARS-CoV-2 vaccine once one becomes available — and doses of the vaccine will likely have to be rationed until production can meet the demand,” Dr. O’Loughlin stated.

“The vital role that dentists play in maintaining overall health and screening for systemic disease is critical to the health of the public,” Dr. O’Loughlin said.

“Dental care is absolutely ESSENTIAL and very much necessary to maintain a healthy balance for all populations, but especially for the mature adult population who may have already lost several teeth due to bone loss and periodontal disease. These populations are the most in need of close attention to minimize inflammatory disease which can affect the cardiovascular system,” stated Thomas Balshi, DDS, FACP, PhD.

Pi Dental Center continues to utilize the highest level of PPE available with stringent sterilization protocols and has complied with all regulations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state of Pennsylvania. As dentists, Drs. Wolfinger and Slauch have taken an oath to prevent disease whenever possible. They have a special obligation to their patients. They strive to realize this oath during this pandemic. Pi Dental Center provides a safe environment for patients and staff.

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Sources:

https://decisionsindentistry.com/2020/08/ada-responds-to-who-dentistry-is-essential-healthcare-2/?inf_contact_key=9cd2de8a9995dbf19bf07a4dd5f527df16358d5485884e2f31e6019a0d26c8b0


https://decisionsindentistry.com/2020/08/paper-explores-connection-between-oral-hygiene-severity-covid/


https://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2020-archive/july/ada-board-of-trustees-dentistry-is-essential-health-care?utm_source=Labs.Dental+Inc.&utm_campaign=3d69664a4b-200807+Products+DaVinci_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d94c263c04-3d69664a4b-388261518


https://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2020-archive/september/ada-urges-dentists-be-offered-early-access-for-sars-cov-2-vaccine#:~:text=Washington%20%E2%80%94%20Dentists%20are%20essential%20health,and%20Medicine%20panel%20Sept.%202.


https://www.dentistrytoday.com/news/industrynews/item/6778-covid-19-patients-with-periodontitis-face-greater-risk-of-dying


https://www.dentistrytoday.com/news/industrynews/item/6797-organized-dentistry-disagrees-with-who-covid-19-recommendations?hq_e=el&hq_m=2091329&hq_l=5&hq_v=93f24336ae

 

Tags: dental health, oral health

Can Wearing A Face Mask Affect Dental Health?

Posted by Pi Dental Center on Aug 15, 2020 12:00:00 PM

Face Mask image for blog called "Can wearing a face mask affect dental health?"Complaints about wearing a face mask are common and frequent.

Now many dentists believe that a new issue related to dental health has surfaced. It has been aptly named “Mask Mouth.”

Wearing a mask for several hours each day may cause dry mouth, which in turn can lead to bad breath, and possibly cavities and gum disease. Mouth breathing dries the tissue of the mouth, decreases saliva and increases the build-up of bacteria. Many people breathe through their mouths instead of their noses when they wear face masks.

Saliva helps to protect the teeth and prevents cavities. Less saliva means more risk for cavities.

Left untreated, gum disease (periodontal disease) can eventually result in cardiovascular problems such as stroke and heart attack.

An impromptu poll of friends and colleagues found that some actually did breathe through their mouths while wearing face masks. They mentioned that both their mouth and throat often felt dry.

The doctors at Pi Dental Center recommend that patients continue to wear masks but take the following measures:

  • Brush regularly with fluoride toothpaste and floss daily.
  • Drink water frequently. Use a straw so that you don’t have to remove your mask to do so. Set a goal to drink at least 8 cups of water each day.
  • Avoid beverages that can dehydrate, such as coffee and alcohol. Use only alcohol-free dental mouth rinses.
  • To help ensure that your teeth remain healthy, limit sugary foods.
  • Schedule your regular dental hygiene and check-up visit.
  • Awareness is important. Be aware of how you are breathing. If you find that you breathe through your mouth while wearing a mask, remind yourself to breathe through your nose.

In addition to dental health problems caused from wearing a face mask, there has been an increase in dental problems due to the shutdown of dental offices.

Dr. Wolfinger states, “I have seen an increase in problems related to poor oral hygiene recently, which I attribute mainly to the fact that many patients have missed their normally scheduled oral hygiene and exam visits as a result of the government shutdown.”

Dolly Kituskie, a dental hygienist at Pi Dental Center has heard many of her patients complain about wearing masks, saying they are itchy and uncomfortable. She has also noticed that some of her patients’ home care has been poor during quarantine. She contributes this lax home care to “increased stress about the whole situation. They are not doing their home care as often or as well.”

Dr. Slauch said, “Wearing a face mask is essential as our society navigates the COVID-19 pandemic. Although our lives are upside down at the moment, keep in mind that routine dental hygiene and maintenance should never be ignored.”

While there is no scientific research that correlates mask wearing to dental decay/gum disease, dentists have identified the phenomenon. What is important is to continue to practice good oral hygiene.

Pi Dental Center advocates wearing a face mask in public. Continue to practice rigorous oral hygiene, drink plenty of fluids and see your dentist regularly. We have implemented a wide array of protocols to provide a safe environment for our patients and staff. If you are due for routine dental care or are in need of a dental visit, please call our office at 215-646-6334.

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Further reading: The Truth Behind the Mask

Tags: dental health, healthy teeth, oral health

June is National Safety Month

Posted by Pi Dental Center on Jun 11, 2019 10:27:06 AM

Golf Photo with text: June is National Safety Month, Protect Your Teeth And Mouth

Keep your teeth safe.

June is National Safety Month. National Safety Month is an annual month-long observance in the United States each June that aims to reduce the leading causes of injury and death through increased awareness of safety and health. 

UV Safety Month - Safety starts with me!

Your dental health contributes to your overall health. When considering your safety, remember to protect your teeth and mouth, as well as the rest of your body.

Here is a list of safety tips:

  • Wear a protective chin cup or mouth guard while bicycling, skateboarding, or skating. And don’t forget to wear a helmet.
  • Your teeth are not tools. Do not use them to pry open bottles or cans.
  • Refrain from chewing your nails. It can damage your tooth enamel and introduce bacteria.
  • Take care of your teeth by getting regular dental hygiene cleanings with examination.
  • Brush your teeth after meals and before bed.
  • Floss your teeth once a day.
  • If you have a toothache, contact your dentist.
  • If you have a broken tooth, contact your dentist immediately.
  • No one wants to have to find a dentist because of an emergency while they’re on vacation. If you are planning to travel, be proactive and get a dental checkup a few weeks before you leave. This way, problems can be nipped in the bud, and help to ensure an enjoyable trip.
  • If you have missing teeth consider your options including removable dentures and permanent tooth replacement with dental implants. Consider a prosthodontist, an American Dental Association recognized specialist in the restoration and replacement of teeth, for your dental treatment.

Please make your teeth a priority and take care of them. If you have a dental question or would like to schedule an appointment, please feel free to contact Pi Dental Center.

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More info about National Safety Month:

Your safety checkup – A risk survey: https://www.nsc.org/forms/safetycheckup

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Tags: prosthodontist, replacement of missing teeth, permanent tooth replacement, oral health

National Dental Hygiene Month

Posted by Chris Raines on Oct 25, 2018 5:43:43 PM

Veteran Dental Hygienist, Julia, chats with patient during oral hygiene appointment

October is National Dental Hygiene Month.

Dental hygienists provide a crucial role in oral health by helping you to prevent gum disease and tooth decay. Our hygienists work with you and your dentist to maintain a healthy mouth.

Julia has been treating patients as a Registered Dental Hygienist at Pi Dental Center for 22 years. When asked why she chose this career, Julia acknowledged, “Dental hygiene is rewarding. I see immediate results. Most patients come in for dental hygiene visits twice a year. We create friendships. When we treat patients, we don’t just look at the teeth. We look at the person as a whole. Other issues in a person’s personal life can spill over and impact their dental health. We look at those issues to help us determine the best way to address problems.”

The mouth is a window to the rest of the body that allows the dental team to detect early signs and symptoms of systemic disease. A dental hygienist is often the first person to notice changes in the mouth.

The connection between oral health and medical health has been well documented. Dolly, a dental hygienist at Pi Dental Center, is proud to be part of Pi Dental Center’s clinical team. Dolly maintains, “With the correlation between coronary heart disease and gum inflammation, I value my role as a hygienist more than ever.” She continues, “I feel that a dental hygienist is of vital importance to the patient’s general overall health.”

Oral hygiene education is a vital part of a hygienist’s role in treating patients. The number of people with missing teeth and periodontal disease in the United States attests to the need for oral hygiene education. According to the American College of Prosthodontics, 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth and about 40 million Americans are missing all of their teeth. American Academy of Periodontology reports as of 2010 approximately 64.7 million American adults, have some form of periodontal disease.

Hygienists teach patients correct brushing and flossing techniques, discuss medical/dental health issues, recommend appropriate oral hygiene products and design individualized oral hygiene regimen for each patient. They provide smoking cessation counseling which helps to prevent periodontal disease and oral cancer.

Hygienists play a crucial role in communications between the patient and dentist. They are ardent advocates for their patient’s health and well-being. Julia states, “Some patients are fearful about expressing their dental health problems to the dentist. But they will talk to their hygienist.”

At Pi Dental Center, our whole team, including our dental hygiene department, has your best interest in mind. Call us to schedule your next visit (215-646-6334) or click the link below to contact us.

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Tags: Dental Hygienist, dental hygiene, oral health, prevent tooth decay