Should you go to the dentist right now?

Should you go to the dentist right now? Probably not, according to the World Health Organization.



a man wearing a blue hat: Dr. Terri Tiersky poses for a portrait in full personal protective equipment, double mask, face shield, gown and gloves, at her dentist office in Skokie, Ill., on Friday, June 12, 2020.


© AP
Dr. Terri Tiersky poses for a portrait in full personal protective equipment, double mask, face shield, gown and gloves, at her dentist office in Skokie, Ill., on Friday, June 12, 2020.

What’s happening?

The World Health Organization has advised people from visiting the dentist right now, especially if the novel coronavirus has been circulating within their state.

“WHO advises that routine nonessential oral health care — which usually includes oral health check-ups, dental cleanings and preventive care — be delayed until there has been sufficient reduction in COVID-19 transmission rates from community transmission to cluster cases or according to official recommendations at national, sub-national or local level. The same applies to aesthetic dental treatments.“

  • The WHO said that people should still seek out “urgent or emergency health care” that are vital to one’s oral health overall.
  • Urgent or emergency care include swelling, bleeding, severe pain and any dental/oral trauma.

Why avoid the dentist?

The WHO specifically advised against dental care because it has concerns the coronavirus can spread through aerosol transmission, meaning air droplets.

  • Benoit Varenne, a WHO dental officer, told The New York Times: “The likelihood of COVID-19 being transmitted through aerosol, micro-particles or airborne particles … today I think is unknown, it’s open to question at least. This means that more research is needed.”
  • The American Dental Association said: Coronavirus “may be spread through aerosols produced by high and low speed handpieces, ultrasonic scalers, air/water syringes, or an infected patient coughing, and even when taking intra-oral radiographs.”
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