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  • Writer's pictureDr. Saumitra Saravana

Corona virus- Dental Appointment

The new coronavirus global pandemic has become the latest virus that is causing a great deal of worry all around the world. Usually, several members of the coronavirus cause mild respiratory disease in humans; every now and then they have been known to cause a more severe form of disease. For example, if you remember, in 2002, we had the SARS or the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and then in the year 2012 we had the MERS or the Middle East Respirartory Syndrome. These diseases were lethal for a few unfortunate patients, but luckily most of us did well. While we still have a lot to know about this particular virus, our thinking is that we should do fine.

So, this Coronavirus is called the COVID-19 virus. The “CO” stands for corona, the “VI” for virus, and “D” for disease and the 19 stands for the year that it became prevalent. Typically, infectious diseases can spread through either direct contact for example, Sexually Transimitted Diseases, or indirect contact by aerosols when sneezing etc, like the flu, or by touching contaminated surfaces.

According to the CDC, this virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Also, people are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

While this virus is a concern, but for the longest time, we in the dental community, have had to deal with numerous similar and worse pathogens. Dental teams are exposed to a number of occupational hazards, including exposure to infections such as, hepatitis, tuberculosis, HIV. NCBI considers dentistry an extremely hazardous career. According to a recent Business Insider article, dentistry is lot more risky than it appears. The Department of Labor's O*NET Online occupational database ranks Dentistry really high up in the list of hazardous professions.

So, being careful is not new to us. As dentists we are very prepared for this threat. The CDC notes that the dental community has been doing a very good job of protecting our patients via state-of-the-art infection control practices. The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks, gloves, protective eyewear, and gowns has led to better protection for our staff and patients. Our use of disinfectants, up-to-date sterilization practices, dedicated hand washing, and one-time-use disposable materials also have all helped facilitate safe dental visits for our patients. (Dentistry Today) The Standard Precautions that we employ to keep our patients and our teams safe are found to be effective against this particular virus.

So what should dental patients know about their upcoming dental visits? Firstly, dental offices are safe. The constant news cycle can make you nervous but there is no reason to avoid dental care. Our patient’s well being is our number one consideration. We have reviewed our Standard Precautions and our team follows them stringently and this keeps everyone safe.

We do however request our patients to take a minute to read through this questionnaire before coming in for your dental appointment: 1) Do you have fever or experience fever within the past 14 days? 2) Have you experienced a recent onset of respiratory problems, such as a cough or difficulty in breathing within the past 14 days? (3) Have you, within the past 14 days, traveled to Wuhan city and its surrounding areas, or visited any other hotspots with documented 2019-nCoV transmission? (4) Have you come into contact with a patient with confirmed 2019-nCoV infection within the past 14 days? (5) Have you come into contact with people who come from Wuhan city and its surrounding areas, or people from the neighborhood with recent documented fever or respiratory problems within the past 14 days? (6) Are there at least two people with documented experience of fever or respiratory problems within the last 14 days having close contact with you? (7) Have you recently participated in any gathering, meetings, or had close contact with many unacquainted people? If you have answered "yes" to any of those questions, please call the office at 540 379 8504 to discuss your upcoming visit to the office.

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