The New Normal: Visiting the Dentist


 

If someone had told me that in the summer of 2020 I would be looking on the internet for something like “how to go to the dentist without catching a pandemic virus in the process”, it would have made me laugh. But, to my surprise, in March 2020 I got a detailed explanation of how there was a pandemic and what precautions we should follow as a family if we wanted to prevent an infection.

Little by little, we learned to do things in different ways and some were a much greater challenge than others: online school, special cleaning of our surroundings, face masks, face shields, indoor and outdoor shoes and lots and lots of soap.

Suddenly our medical appointments changed from face-to-face to virtual appointments. For those of us who live with diabetes, some find it very convenient because now our data is analyzed on-screen and we are able to see with our team what adjustments should be made.

But I was surprised when my son said that his tooth hurt. A tooth? Why? Why right now? There are no dentists! That was my first thought. Of course, health professionals, including dentists, continue to work, but as parents, we have certain fears and of course we would never even think about going to the dentist in the middle of a pandemic and opening our mouths in an environment where the virus we are hiding from is probably present. Right?

Well, it was inevitable. First, we had to do some research, and we had to do it quickly because, as you may know: toothaches are unique… and horrendous.

And so, from my research and my experience taking my son to the dentist, I decided to share some information. I hope you find them useful if your visit, like ours, is unavoidable.

Is it an emergency?

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), there are certain appointments and conditions that can be postponed and rescheduled (or forgotten because it is now unclear when this pandemic will end) these include:

  • Regular appointments for check-ups, cleaning and x-rays
  • Appointments for braces and cosmetic procedures
  • Tooth extraction (as long as there is NO pain)
  • Teeth whitening (which is also considered an aesthetic procedure)

However, according to the ADA there are some procedures that will make it necessary for you to visit your specialist’s office, including:

  • Bleeding that is difficult to contain
  • Inflammation inside and outside the mouth
  • Pain in teeth or gums
  • Gum infection with pain and inflammation
  • Broken teeth
  • Denture adjustments for people undergoing cancer treatment
  • Wires that could cut your gums or mouth in the case you have braces
  • Biopsies or abnormal tissue

Before the appointment

Obviously, we had an emergency. The first thing we did was call the office to ask about the procedures. We were given a brief questionnaire to find out if we had had symptoms if we had already had the virus and if we had been in contact with other people in the last 15 days or if someone close to us had been diagnosed. They also explained that we had to arrive about 10 minutes before my son’s appointment and that we would have to wait in the car until someone came out of the office to let us in.

During our appointment

Once there, we parked the car and waited. The receptionist came and let us in, but not before reminding us to put on our face masks. Before entering the facilities, they took our temperature and asked us to clean our hands with hand sanitizer.

It is preferable for children to be accompanied by only one adult, but it is also an option for them to enter alone if they are old enough. The fewer people in the office or waiting room, the better. They clean the waiting room before letting any patient come inside and the seats as well. Just in case, take some disinfectant wipes in your pants pocket and preferably some sanitizer.

About the team and the protection our dentists used

It is clear now to me after my son’s appointment that it is riskier going to the supermarket than going to the dentist’s office. In any case, it is inevitable to feel anxiety, but the truth is that the equipment they used for protection made us feel safe.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States Department of Labor published some recommendations for these health professionals and, as you can see, the risk of you being infected or that they will be infected exists, but is much lower than in other activities and services.

source: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/dentistry.html

Perfect smiles

It will surely take some time for us to relearn how to do things but many of us learned to do everything differently when we were diagnosed with diabetes and here we are, living beyond our condition. We are not sure when this pandemic will end, but what we do know for sure is that we are brave, and we will learn soon so that we can smile the same or more than before our lives changed drastically.

Read more about coronavirus and type 2 diabetes here.

For more information on what you can do to protect yourself and others, visit coronavirusdiabetes.org and share the #BigLittleChanges you are making.

 

WRITTEN BY Mariana Gómez , POSTED 08/26/20, UPDATED 04/30/22

Mariana is a psychologist and a diabetes Educator. In 2008, Mariana started a blog where she shares her life experience with others and started advocating through social media. Mariana worked with the Mexican Diabetes Federation as a communications manager and in other efforts to help build and empower the online diabetes community in Mexico. Today she is the director of emerging markets at Beyond Type 1. She is the mother of a teenager.