During the pandemic, it can be difficult to get proper dental care because of the social distancing regulations. Around half of adults say they visit a dentist once every six months, but that’s not possible now that all nonessential dental services have been canceled. If you’ve had an upcoming cleaning scheduled, you’ve probably already been notified that it’s not going to happen until this outbreak subsides. What can you do to keep your teeth and gums healthy in the meantime?
If you don’t currently have a dentist and are looking for a good dentist during this time, you’ll most likely only be able to receive care if you have a dental emergency. The definition of a dental emergency can vary widely depending on the provider. How can you find dental care and take care of your teeth when the offices all appear to be closed? Here’s everything you need to know about how to find a quality dentist and how to take care of your teeth during quarantine.
Do Your Research
When looking for a good dentist, research dental services in your local area. Read online reviews and check online websites like the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints. You can also ask family and friends if they have any recommendations. You can also contact your dental insurance company and request a list of general dentistry providers in your area. Check with local community organizations as they may be able to provide you with some excellent resources for looking for a good dentist.
If the dentist has a website, look for information on what their policies are during the pandemic. You may also be able to set up a video call over Zoom or Skype to have a consultation. This can help you decide whether or not you’re comfortable with the dentist. You’ll also be able to find out what services may be offered and steps you can take to take good care of your teeth. Have your medical history and a list of any medications that you’re taking so that the dentist can give you the best possible advice.
What To Expect At An Office or Hospital Dental Visit
After looking for a good dentist and making a dental appointment, you’ll likely see measures in place that are designed to keep everyone protected from contracting the virus. Many dental clinics are minimizing the number of patients in their reception areas by having them wait outside in their cars until the dentist is ready to see them. When it’s time for your appointment, you’ll be notified via a text message. Patients may also be required to fill out forms that ask about their exposure to coronavirus and whether or not they are experiencing any symptoms. You may have your temperature taken before you’re allowed to be seen in order to keep everyone safe.
Many dental professionals are wearing protective gowns, gloves, doubled surgical masks, and face shields. You may be asked to wear a mask as well throughout most of your dental visit. Everything is completely sterilized as it always has been, but you can ask for chairs or other items to be sterilized before any work begins. Make sure that dental staff wash their hands and change their gloves before touching your mouth or face. There may be other protocols as well, depending on the dentist and the regulations in the state in which you reside. Be sure to follow carefully any take-home instructions you receive after your appointment to reduce the risk of developing an infection.
As you’re looking for a good dentist, there are things you should know about dental emergencies. According to the American Dental Association, certain procedures are being postponed or delayed for the time being like dental cleaning, teeth whitening, and dental implants. The reason why these routine procedures are being delayed or canceled is because of the use of high-speed hand tools that dentists use. These tools have the capability of taking the contents of your mouth and turning them into a fine spray that can contaminate the area. This can expose others to the risk of becoming infected if the patient was asymptomatic.
Many dental hygienists are no longer using certain cleaning machines that spray aerosols to make things safer for everyone. Magazines in reception areas are being discarded because they are an item people frequently touch. Patients are given a pre-procedural mouthwash to clean and disinfect the oral cavity in lieu of regular dental cleanings. This helps reduce the risk of inflammation that can lead to infection.
If you’re in severe pain, the option of looking for a good dentist through emergency dentistry is available during the pandemic. What counts as a dental emergency? If you’re experiencing symptoms such as bleeding that won’t stop, swelling, severe pain, fever, or an infection, contact a dentist immediately. If you’re not experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s best to hold off making any dental appointments if you possibly can. If you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, you may be sent to the emergency room for treatment instead of a dentist office visit, depending on what situation your dental emergency is at the present time and severity of symptoms.
If they are unable to see you on an emergency basis, you can head to the emergency room or an urgent care center for treatment. You may want to call first before you go as they may have certain regulations and procedures they may have to follow because of the pandemic. Be aware that you may not be able to get the best treatment you need because emergency room doctors aren’t equipped with the necessary tools for dental emergencies. However, they may be able to prescribe antibiotics or pain medications that can provide you with some temporary relief.
If you’re experiencing other problems such as dentures not fitting properly or broken braces, call your dentist to determine if an in-office visit is necessary. Be sure you take your temperature before you call. You’ll be asked a series of questions about whether or not you’ve experienced any coronavirus symptoms. If you need emergency dental care for kids, take only your child and yourself to the office or emergency room visit and leave other family members at home. This will help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by practicing safe social distancing.
If you can’t physically visit a dental clinic, there are some telehealth options you may be able to take advantage of when looking for a good dentist. Dentists can use this technology to diagnose and treat conditions without having to have a face-to-face visit. All that’s needed is a computer or smartphone that’s equipped with a camera and a specific app downloaded in order to receive services. You can upload pictures of your teeth or lean in close so that the doctor can get a look at what’s going on. These telehealth services can have a significant impact on reducing the number of emergency room visits so that already overburdened hospitals can focus on treating the pandemic as best as they possibly can.
Dentists can assess dental pain and perform routine monitoring in order to make recommendations. They also can prescribe medications and make referrals to other providers to help you while you’re looking for a good dentist. However, not all dentists offer this service. It also has limitations because a video chat may not be sufficient enough to truly diagnose a dental condition. If for some reason the dentist is unable to make a proper diagnosis, they may make a recommendation to come in for a visit or advise you on other steps you may be able to take. Many dental offices are even making home visits to deliver medications in select areas.
At Home Pain Relief
If you develop a severe toothache while sheltering in place during the pandemic, there are a few things you can do to relieve your pain before looking for a good dentist or making a visit to the dentist or the emergency room. You may be able to reduce your pain by taking over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen. Take the recommended dose on the bottle every four to six hours as needed. Ibuprofen may not be an ideal solution as there have been reports of it having a serious reaction with the virus. You should consult your doctor first before taking any medication to make sure it’s safe to do so.
You can also try to relieve your pain by applying a cold compress or ice pack on your cheek. Wrap the ice pack in a towel and then place it on the affected area to help reduce swelling. If you don’t have an ice pack available, grab some frozen vegetables from your freezer. You can also try applying a topical gel such as Orajel or rinsing with salt water or an antiseptic mouthwash. Avoid eating any hot or cold foods as this may exacerbate pain levels.
If you’re experiencing dental pain from braces, using orthodontic wax may be beneficial for relieving pain. This will help protect the insides of your mouth from being scraped by the wires of the braces. The wax can be broken apart into smaller pieces and applied anywhere in the mouth. You can typically find it anywhere dental products are sold. If you’re continuing to have problems after applying the wax, be sure to contact your dentist immediately.
If you’re experiencing pain from dentures that feel loose, try using a denture adhesive to keep them in place. You can also apply a topical oral pain relief or an aloe vera gel or cream to your gums to relieve soreness. To reduce inflammation, massage your gums regularly or rinse your mouth with salt water for 30 seconds with your dentures removed.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene
During the pandemic, it’s important to practice good oral hygiene to avoid having a dental care emergency. Brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time. Floss thoroughly once every day. You can also swish your mouth with hydrogen peroxide and water rinse or salt water. If you want, you can take pictures of the inside of your mouth or use a mirror to inspect your teeth on a regular basis for anything unusual. Frequently washing your hands and keeping your hands away from your face will not only help you from contracting the virus but also help prevent a dental infection as well.
Eat healthy meals, exercise, and drink plenty of water. Limit caffeinated, alcoholic, and sugary beverages as much as possible to avoid creating circumstances that have you looking for a good dentist at a moment’s notice. Get at least eight hours of sleep each night and minimize stress as much as possible. Practicing good oral hygiene can help minimize your risk of developing serious chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. This is especially important for those who have weakened immune systems and are at greater risk of developing infections.
Clean your toothbrush frequently by rinsing them with water and allow them to air dry standing up. You can also disinfect your toothbrush by rinsing it for 15 minutes with 0.5 percent hydrogen peroxide, which can kill the virus. Keep your toothbrush away from those belonging to other family members. If you suspect that someone in your household has contracted the virus, replace all toothbrushes immediately, and keep them separate from one another. If you can’t remember when the last time you changed your toothbrush was, it’s definitely time to get a new one.
Trying to look for a good dentist while under quarantine can be an incredibly difficult challenge. However, there are options available if you dig deep enough. If your pain level is tolerable, do your best to resolve the situation as much as you can at home before reaching out to a dentist or the emergency room. You can find numerous resources available online that can help you learn about proper oral care and remedies for a variety of different dental problems.
It’s important to do everything you can to take proper care of your teeth until things get back to normal. If you are experiencing dental problems, don’t hesitate to go to an emergency room after looking for a good dentist if you think it’s necessary. Delaying treatment could be deadlier than the risk of contracting the virus.