Patient Safety Protocols in response to COVID-19
For Your Safety
Exceeding Recommended Guidelines
Village Dental follows infection control recommendations made by the American Dental Association (ADA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). We follow the activities of these agencies so that we are up-to-date on any new rulings or guidance that may be issued. We do this to make sure that our infection control procedures are current and adhere to each agencies’ recommendations.
You may see some changes when it is time for your next appointment. We made these changes to help protect our patients and staff. For example:
Patients & Guests
Personal Protective Equipment
When in Doubt, Stay Out
We look forward to seeing you again and are happy to answer any questions you may have about the steps we take to keep you, and every patient, safe in our practice. To make an appointment, please call or text Village Dental at 201-440-9190.
What Can Be Done to Avoid COVID-19?
Since there is no vaccine for COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2, preventing exposure to the virus is the only real defense currently available.
How does the COVID-19 virus spread through the population?
The transmission of COVID-19 usually happens directly between people. This typically occurs because of respiratory droplets from talking, sneezing, or coughing in close contact (within six feet) of other people. These aerosolized particles can come into the body by way of the mouth, nose, or eyes, and can also cause infection when inhaled directly into the lungs.
Please know that a person can be contagious without having symptoms.
The novel coronavirus can also be transmitted by touching surfaces where respiratory have landed and touching your face afterward.
What can I do to protect myself against the virus?
Here are the recommended ways to prevent being exposed to COVID-19:
- Be sure to maintain a distance of six feet from other people when in public.
- Wash your hands frequently. Ensure you are doing it the right way.
- Use hand sanitizer if you have no access to soap. Your hand sanitizer should contain at least 60% alcohol.
- Try not to touch your mouth, nose, or eyes without having washed your hands beforehand.
- You should be sure to wear a mask or cloth face covering when out in public.
- Cover your mouth whenever you cough or sneeze.
- Make sure to clean and disinfect frequently.
How can someone know if they have COVID-19?
The symptoms of COVID-19 could be severe or mild. Common symptoms of COVID-19 to be aware of include the following:
- Difficulty breathing
- Body and/or muscle aches
- Loss of sense(s) of smell or taste
- Sore throat
- Nausea or vomiting
- Runny nose or congestion
What people are most vulnerable to this virus?
Even though anyone can have serious complications from COVID-19, the ones who are in the most danger are those over 65 years old as well as people who have preexisting medical conditions, as in the following:
- A serious heart condition
- Individuals who have immunodeficiencies
- Chronic lung disease
- Liver disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- People who are severely obese
If I think I’ve caught the virus, what should I do?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a website with recommended guidelines to follow and a self-checker, should you believe that you may have the virus.
Can the Chance of Some Complications of COVID-19 Be Prevented by My Dentist?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people want to keep from leaving the house whenever possible and are avoiding any potentially unnecessary appointments. But is it wise to postpone dental checkups and cleanings due to the risk of catching COVID-19?
The British Dental Journal published a paper recently which suggests the opposite.
The links between the health of our mouths and the overall health of our bodies—the oral-systemic connection—is something dentists have known for a long time now.
In Victoria Sampson’s paper, she looks into how many of the COVID-19 virus’s more serious complications could be tied to oral bacteria.
What are the complications connected with the novel coronavirus?
Some of the most frequent, dangerous complications of the virus are:
- ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome)
- Septic shock
- Blood clots
The complications of the virus are actually more likely to result in death than the actual virus. Though COVID-19 is a virus, these complications are the result of bacteria. Studies are showing that eighty percent of patients in the ICU have elevated levels of harmful bacteria, necessitating antibiotic treatment. When it comes to the severity of COVID-19 infections, this information indicates that bacteria play a big part.
How are complications of COVID-19 connected to oral health?
Oral bacteria have a relatively high chance of making their way into the respiratory tract. The same types of bacteria in gum disease can cause or worsen illnesses like pneumonia or sepsis.
This is where good oral health and hygiene come in. The transfer of harmful kinds of bacteria between the lungs and mouth can be reduced by taking care of your mouth. Some studies have discovered that better oral health can lower the risk of ventilator-associated pneumonia in ICU patients, as well as help, prevent bacterial superinfection.
Don’t put off going to the dentist!
While it may be scary to have a dental visit during COVID-19, this actually is the best time to make sure that you’re in the best oral health you can be in. Having good oral health is not only in the best interest of your overall wellbeing, it may lessen your risk of COVID-19-related complications.
If you’re overdue for a dental appointment or have a dental issue you’d like looked into, call Village Dental to schedule your next visit.
COVID-19 + Gum Disease Can Be Deadly
We previously pointed out the connections between gum disease and the complications of COVID-19, but since then, more research has been done on this topic. Most notably is a study published in the European Federation of Periodontology’s Journal of Clinical Periodontology.
The team performing the study in Qatar looked at 568 patients who had been diagnosed with COVID-19 between February and July of 2020. Of the patients in the study, 40 had suffered complications, which consisted of being put in intensive care, placed on a ventilator, or dying. The study looked at a number of factors for their connection with COVID-19, including heart disease, asthma, diabetes, body mass index, blood pressure, smoking, and others.
The study found that COVID-19 patients who were suffering from periodontal disease were nearly nine (8.81) times more likely to die than those without.
COVID patients with gum disease were 4.5 times more likely to need a ventilator and were 3.5 times more likely to be admitted to intensive care.
Those with periodontal disease were more likely to develop COVID-19 complications (around 12.8%) than those without (about 2.3%).
One of the study’s co-authors, Professor Lior Shapira of the Hebrew University, said, “The results of the study suggest that the inflammation in the oral cavity may open the door to the coronavirus becoming more violent. Oral care should be part of the health recommendations to reduce the risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes.”
ADA Finds That Less Than 1% of Dentists Have Tested Positive for COVID
Patients concerned about visiting the dentist during the pandemic may find some reassurance in learning that the ADA has found that fewer than 1% of dentists have tested positive for COVID-19.
In the first large-scale collection of infection rates and infection control practices in the US, the ADA Science and Research Institute and Health Policy Institute in Chicago found that the methods recommended by the CDC and the ADA to keep patients and dental teams safe are working.
This data was collected from every state in the USA as well as Puerto Rico, and the ongoing survey is now working with the American Dental Hygienists Association to include dental hygienists in future updates.
In addition to ADA and CDC recommendations, most dental offices are going above and beyond when it comes to PPE, screening procedures, sterilization, and minimizing aerosols. Thanks to this dedication to safety, the ADA states that the rate of infection for dentists are far below those for other medical professionals.
The vice president of the ADA Health Policy Institute, Marko Vujicic, Ph.D., stated: “The profession has taken this issue extremely seriously, and it shows. We will continue to track the rate of COVID-19 among dentists and other facets of the pandemic affecting dentistry so it can help inform the dental profession and other industries as well.”
Preventing the spread of COVID-19 is a concern all of us share, but, fortunately, with the safety protocols currently in place, patients should feel safer at dental visits than most other activities they may take during the pandemic.
Are COVID-19 Lockdowns Leading to More Orofacial Pain?
The pandemic has resulted in a stressful time for everyone in the world, and, for many people, this stress can result in orofacial pain.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine took a look at patients in two countries and examined how the stress of COVID-19 lockdowns may have caused an increase in jaw-clenching, teeth-grinding, and orofacial pain.
Some of the findings from the study by the University of Wroclaw and Tel Aviv University were:
- 12% increase in orofacial pain symptoms
- 15% increase in jaw-clenching
- 26% increase in teeth grinding
- For those who were already suffering from orofacial pain, there was a 15% increase in severity
- Women were more affected by these increases than men
- Patients in the age range of 35-55 were the most affected
Whether due to concerns over the virus, financial issues, isolation during quarantine, or other situations resulting from the lockdowns, it’s evident that problems such as bruxism (teeth grinding) and temporomandibular disorders are increasing during these stressful times.
For those suffering from these issues—including head, neck, and jaw pain, tension headaches, earaches, tooth sensitivity in the absence of a dental problem—help is available. Depending on the specific nature of the problem, these can be relieved with night guards, bite splints, or bite adjustments.
If you believe you are one of the people suffering from pain as a result of this type of stress, get in touch with our office to take your first step toward finding relief.
COVID-19 and Other Outbreaks
As of November of 2020, there have been more than 56 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide. While 39 million of those have recovered, the virus has claimed the lives of over 1.3 million people, with many cases still active.
While an outbreak of this size and severity is a new experience for most of us, it is hardly unique. Many such outbreaks have happened throughout history, and without the benefit of modern medicine, they have resulted in far higher death tolls than COVID-19.
To put it in perspective, here are some of the outbreaks that past generations have gone through.
There are records of what is believed to have been Smallpox as far back as 300 BC in ancient Egypt. The disease is believed to have killed three out of every ten people who contracted it, and it has persisted all the way to the modern era. It wasn’t until 1980 that vaccination efforts managed to eradicate the virus worldwide.
Known as the Black Death, the Bubonic plague first appeared in Europe and Asia in the mid-1330s and continued on until the early 1350s. The US had an epidemic in Los Angeles as recently as 1924. While antibiotics are available to treat the disease when caught early, the disease is still present, with around 1,000-3,000 cases annually around the world. The bubonic plague is believed to have killed more than 20 million people in Europe alone.
Believed to have been around since the 4th century BC, the first known Cholera pandemic began in India in 1817, with a second occurring in 1829. This second outbreak became a pandemic, spreading through Europe, and North America. There were multiple Cholera pandemics between the years of 1852 and 1923, and outbreaks continue even today, with approximately 2.9 million cases and 95,000 deaths annually across the world. The spread of Cholera can be prevented with proper sanitation and clean drinking water.
The Spanish Flu
Caused a type of H1N1 flu virus, the Spanish Flu was first identified in the US in 1918. The spread of the virus was likely expedited by troop movements during World War I, with the virus infecting 500 million people across the world. More than 50 million people died from this variant of the flu. The pandemic was eventually stopped through quarantine, disinfectants, and improvements in personal hygiene.
Spread by a parasite carried by mosquitos, Malaria has likely existed since the Stone Age and is still around today. Most cases are now in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, as a program started by the World Health Organization in 1955 helped to eliminate the disease in many parts of the world. Currently, there are about 2,000 cases of malaria diagnosed in the world annually.
Fortunately for us, research on COVID-19 has progressed quickly and promising vaccines are already in development. In the meantime, practices like ours are using modern medical knowledge to help prevent the spread of infection through safety protocols that keep both our dental team and our patients safe.
In-House Dental Membership Plan
Looking to save big on your dental care? We proudly offer an exclusive in-house membership plan. This plan gives our patients access to routine preventive care at no extra cost with great discounts on our other services. Contact our office to enroll and start saving today!