In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and recurring state and county mandates, new information is being provided to the community on a day-by-day basis.
With so many questions and concerns up in the air, especially here in the Rio Grande Valley, it is important to remind everyone about maintaining adequate health practices within your household – especially now more than ever.
One critical area that we should all be focused on is our oral health, and understanding exactly when seeking dental care should be deemed as essential.
The Edinburg dentists of Heroes Dental are here to give you the most up-to-date guidance about oral health care in regards to the current state of COVID-19 in the Rio Grande Valley, as well as when to seek a dentist as per CDC and ADA recommendations, and how to keep your oral health a priority while remaining quarantined.
What the CDC and ADA Currently Recommends About Dental Appointments
In order to prevent the ongoing spread of the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that dental appointments should be limited to only emergency consultations and essential surgical procedures if possible.
ADA Recommendations for Dental Establishments
The American Dental Association (ADA) has laid out the following guidelines that dental establishments and their staff members should follow:
- If possible, person-to-person consultations should be minimized. The ADA also highly recommends consultation with clients via teledentistry services or any other remote methods in order to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
- Dentists, staff members, and clients should fully utilize any and all personal protective equipment at all times. It is important to note that surgical masks do not necessarily protect against arsenal-borne disease transmission.
- Take extra oral-radiographs as much as possible.
- Reduce aerosol use as much as possible.
- N95 masks are recommended when treating patients as they completely seal the nose and mouth. Dental health care providers should also utilize a protective face shield if treating patients in close proximity. If these items are not available, dentists and staff members alike should wear FDA approved surgical masks for each patient treated, as well as use goggles, gloves, and gowns.
- Dental team members within 6 feet of the treatment aerosol areas should only be limited to the operator and the assistant.
When Patients Should Consult a Dentist and When They Can Wait
In order to determine if consulting a dentist is an urgent manner, clients should take the following factors into consideration, especially those of us in the Rio Grande Valley who are under a shelter-in-home order:
You should consult your local dentist if, and only if, you are experiencing the following severe symptoms:
- Lingering tooth pain
- Severe jaw pain
- You have developed gum infections
- Recurring swelling within your gums
- Nonstop bleeding within your gums
- Fractured teeth
- Teeth have been knocked out by accident
- Removal of stitches following dental surgery
- Broken wires within your braces
Dental visits that are currently deemed unessential include:
- Routine appointments and check-ups
- Tooth extractions (varying on situation and case)
- Cavity fillings (varying on situation and case)
- Teeth whitening procedures
- Dental veneers
- Routine x-rays and cleanings
Hidalgo County Shelter-In-Place Order (as of July 22, 2020)
With COVID-19 cases at an all-time high in Hidalgo County, and the surrounding areas, a shelter-in-place order has been put into effect as of July 22nd and is set to expire on August 5th. The purpose of this order is to reduce the ongoing COVID-19 spread within the Rio Grande Valley.
Some of the key highlights from this shelter-in-place order are:
- A curfew for all adults over the age of 18 shall be in place from 10 p.m.- 5 a.m. (unless fulfilling an essential service).
- Everyone living within Hidalgo County is ORDERED to stay at home at all times unless fulfilling an essential service or going out for essential needs. Only 4 persons will be allowed in a vehicle and only 2 shall be inside a vehicle when seeking essentials.
- Everyone shall be ORDERED to wear face masks at all times when inside of a business, public building, and outside areas where social distancing is not possible. The mask must fully cover the nose and the mouth.
- Failure to wear a mask can result in a $250 fine if given a second offense.
Maintaining Proper Oral Health When Quarantined
In the midst of everything, it is vital for family members to look out for one another. Parents should take special care to monitor their children’s health, as well as their own.
It is important to pay close attention to younger children to ensure they are brushing their teeth and flossing daily. You’ll also want to watch what your family is eating, especially now that everyone is home, it can be much easier to snack on sweets all day instead of balancing your diet.
How Maintaining a Healthy and Stable Diet Can Protect Your Oral Health
While we are living under the unique circumstances of a global pandemic, it is normal for us to feel tense and anxious about the situation.
When you’re stressed or feeling high levels of anxiety, one of the ways you might try to cope with the emotions you are feeling is by consuming an excessive amount of sugary snacks and drinks.
Yes, moderately consuming these snacks from time to time isn’t a major issue, but repeatedly eating foods that are high in sugar and acids as a catharsis for your stress can lead to more damage to not only to your oral health, but your entire body and mind as well.
Things such as soda, taffy candy, gummy worms, and ice cream can all serve as threats to you and your children’s oral health as the acidic substances that break down after consumption can spread directly into your tooth enamel. The longer these acids stick around, the more at-risk children and adults are at developing cavities and gum disease.
Wiser, Healthier Choices for the Dinner Table
One positive thing about quarantine is the opportunity to have more family time at the dinner table.
With home-made meals playing a bigger role now that more restaurants are temporarily lockdown, consider picking up the following foods next time you go out to the grocery store:
- Lean proteins such as lean beef, skinless chicken, fish and lite tofu.
- Whole-grain foods such as quinoa, plain oats, and whole-wheat bread products.
- Essential fruits and vegetables, such as berries, peaches, apples, oranges, and other greens.
- Low-fat, dairy products such as Greek yogurt and cheese sticks.
- Vegan choices and alternatives to the foods listed above (if applicable).
The healthier choices you make and bring to the dinner table, the better suited your family’s immune system will be. Developing a strong immune system can lead to healthier teeth and gums that can fight off unwanted threats!
An Everyday Routine To Follow At Home!
The following steps will help ensure your oral health stays great during quarantine and will help to reduce any potential dental complications well within the foreseeable future:
- Brush your teeth 2-3 times a day with ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss at least once a day in order to get rid of any leftover food and plaque that the toothbrush did not pick up.
- Rinse off with non-alcoholic, antibacterial mouthwash in order to eliminate any and all leftover bacteria.
- Choose greener, healthier alternatives when snacking and limit the number of times your children snack throughout the day.
- Drink plenty of water and maintain adequate hydration at all times.
- Avoid any hard foods that can cause a tooth to chip or break, especially candies.
It is also critical to note that keeping your toothbrush as clean as possible has never been more important. If you or a loved one have been feeling sick as of late, it is best to dispose of your toothbrush and replace it with a brand new one.
In order to adequately clean a toothbrush, you should soak it in a mixture of mouthwash and hydrogen peroxide.
Heroes Dental: Making Your Health Our #1 Priority!
At Heroes Dental, it is our top priority to ensure our guests have the best worry-free dental experience possible during these times of uncertainty.
It is our duty as your dental team to combat the spread of the coronavirus. We deep sanitize our offices and follow all necessary protocols in order to protect our dentists, staff, and most importantly, our clients.
In need of essential dental care? Do not hesitate to contact Heroes Dental today to schedule your next appointment!