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COVID has changed dentistry in many ways, from the PPEs worn by dentists to the tools that they use. Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions:

Q: Is it safe to go back to the dentist?

A: At the start of the pandemic, many dental offices shut down completely. Others remained open, but offered only dental emergency services. Now, many dental offices are offering checkups and teeth cleaning, as well as restorative work, such as fillings, crowns and implants.

Q: What should I expect when I go to the dentist in the post-COVID era?

A: Now that COVID has been with us for over two years, most people know the drill (pun intended). Before your appointment, you will receive an email or a text from the dental office, asking you to answer some screening questions. The email will remind you that, when you arrive, you must be wearing a mask. Upon your arrival, you may have your temperature taken. You will also be asked to sanitize your hands and gargle with an antiseptic mouthwash. In addition to masks, staff at the dental office will be wearing PPEs such as face shields, caps and gowns. Finally, procedures that generate aerosol will be minimized. 

Q: Can COVID affect my oral health?

A: In the early days of the pandemic, some dentists reported that, in rare cases, COVID patients had lesions on their tongues. While this condition has not been in the news recently, you should definitely get any lesions in your mouth checked out by a dentist. More commonly, however, many dentists are reporting an increase in cracked teeth, which are usually caused by clenching and grinding (bruxism).  As a result, many patients are ordering night guards, which can help prevent this kind of damage. 

In addition to the damage caused by bruxism, teeth have gotten dirtier, as many people have put off trips to the dentist. So during teeth cleaning appointments, there is more cleaning to be done. A recent study has shown that people with gum disease are more likely to become seriously ill with COVID. So it’s important to take care of your teeth, even during a pandemic.

Q: Has anything like THIS ever happened before?

A: Many dentists have compared the effect of the COVID pandemic on dentistry to the earlier effect of the HIV/AIDS pandemic on dentistry. Before HIV/AIDS, dentists used to examine patients with their bare hands. Now, dentists always wear gloves–a change in dental practice that came about because of a pandemic.