COLORADO SPRINGS — On Monday March 16th, the American Dental Association recommended dental offices in the United States suspend elective procedures for three weeks to help slow down the spread of coronavirus.
Colorado Springs Dentist, Dr. Fred Guerra with Guerra Dental says, “The overall recommendation is to take a pause and delay or defer any elective treatments and there are a number of reasons for that. We certainly want to reduce that curve [rate of infection] that we've all been seeing out there. The less interactions in a dental office or dental offices throughout the country, it is going to help lower that [infection rate] curve. It's going to allow us to make the fight that our medical providers are undergoing a little easier just by the amount of social distancing with people not coming into the dental office routinely. It may even get to the point where it's conserving critical personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gowns should those be needed in the near future. Of course, we will still be available for emergencies.”
What is a dental emergency? Sure something like a painful broken tooth may seem obvious, but Dr. Guerra says in some cases even swollen gums may warrant emergent treatment. Your level of pain and discomfort generally should be your guide.
“People who have acute gum infections in general would need to be seen as soon as possible because they can have a reduced immune system. With a reduced immune system, they are more susceptible to catch a virus like this. It's almost on a case-by-case basis of the level of disease that our patients have. Do they warrant getting them in under the emergency umbrella, or do we feel like with the scope of their disease we can delay their treatment for those three weeks.”
Dr. Guerra says dentists not seeing many of their usual patients for a few weeks will be worth it.
“Right now, the precautions certainly seem prudent. We want to do the best we can to protect what we consider to be extremely vulnerable populations. The elderly, and anybody with a compromised immune system regardless of the age is going to be adversely affected with [COVID-19]. I think down the road if we follow all the recommendations, we will come through this just fine. Perhaps within a year, we'll have a preventive vaccine and treatment. To me, it's similar to the AIDS epidemic. We thought the world was going to end then. I think we will come through this just fine. It’s just going to take a little time.”
Until then, Dr. Guerra says each dental office may handle the ADA recommendations differently and if you have questions reach out to your dentist.
Dr. Guerra says at Guerra Dental, “Our phones will be answered all the time. If someone has an acute issue, they can certainly reach someone answering here at our office and we will individually tailor an appointment to see them for their problem if needed. I would advise anybody in the same situation to check with their dentist and see what their emergency protocol is going to be for these three weeks. If for whatever reason they are not able to reach them, or not able to get out of pain, they can feel free to give us a call, and we will be glad to help.”
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