Is It Safe to Visit a Dentist During This COVID-19 Pandemic?
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Dental Visit During COVID-19 Pandemic

Published on Apr 24, 2021 and last reviewed on Aug 02, 2023   -  5 min read


With the worry about the spread of the dangerous Coronavirus (SARSCOV–2), everyone is apprehensive about visiting the dentist. Read the article to know more.

Dental Visit During COVID-19 Pandemic


Everyone in the world is presently worried about the spread of dangerous Coronavirus (SARS–COV-2), the virus responsible for COVID-19 disease. Nowadays, all are keen on searching, reading, and spreading the information about its prevention and control measures. Because of this pandemic, everyone's lifestyle has been changed and all are getting adapted to new challenges. But, how to plan the dental visits during this pandemic? This article discusses things to take into consideration when planning for a dental appointment during this uncertain time.

What Are the Risks of Transmission?

SARS-CoV-2 virus spread occurs primarily with respiratory droplets between people less than six feet of distance. It is mainly spread through respiratory droplets of an infected person when he coughs, sneezes or talks. The virus persists in aerosols and droplets for hours. When studied under laboratory conditions, the virus remains on certain surfaces for hours to days. But when there is a distance of more than six feet between individuals, it is less likely to spread. COVID-19 can even be spread by individuals not showing any symptoms. This pandemic has changed the way to access healthcare facilities, and so there is no exception for dental care.

Why Are Dental Procedures Risky?

Dentistry is a highly collaborative field that involves close contact with patients, and so the risk of spreading infection is high. As we have seen, the main mode of spread of infection is via respiratory droplets, which made all dentistry segments reconsider infection control protocols.

Most dental procedures involve the use of rotary instruments, such as handpieces, ultrasonic scalers, water sprays or syringes, or three-way syringes that are used for air and water spray. Aerosols that spread in the dental office can contain droplets of water, saliva, debris, blood, and microorganisms too.

Not during this pandemic, but in routine practice also, dental surgeons are trained to use a surgical mask while doing dental procedures to prevent cross-infection. Surgical masks provide protection of mouth and nose against inhalation of infectious agents through splatter.

However, complete protection against infectious SARS-COV-2 transmission has not been tested and is not guaranteed. There are certain guidelines for the healthcare system to work during this pandemic, and with that, dental clinics are allowed to reopen. But there is a big question among people that should one rush for an appointment? Or should they wait a bit longer for treatment to get done? So everything about dental visits during these pandemic times are discussed below.

Is it Safe to Visit a Dental Clinic During This Pandemic?

Even before the pandemic, it was necessary for dental clinics to maintain strict sterilization and hygiene protocols. The standard protocol for the dental care team is to wear gloves, a surgical mask, and protective eye wears. This prevents cross-infection among dental care professionals and patients. Dental services have to look after either of things, one is to provide essential services, and the other is to take risk factors to a minimal level for patients as well as for associated dental care staff. Because of this pandemic, few more protocols got included in previous protocols for dental care professionals. Many of them are given by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. So, it is safe to visit a dental clinic without fear but with necessary precautions.

When Is It Necessary To Meet a Dentist?

When there is a dental emergency, it is important to visit the dentist as soon as possible. So, the following are the dental emergencies:

  • Trauma or an injury from an accident.
  • Severe toothache.
  • Swelling in cheeks or gums.
  • Abscess in gums or infection in gums.
  • Bleeding in a gum that is not getting stopped.
  • Pain or continuous irritation from any broken orthodontic appliance or any prosthesis.

In What Cases Is It Not an Emergency To Meet the Dentist?

Following are a few treatments that are not emergencies and hence can be addressed at later appointments –

  1. Routine dental checkups.
  2. Cleaning of teeth.
  3. Whitening of teeth.
  4. Mild sensitivity of teeth.
  5. Minor problems such as halitosis, and so on.

But it is always advisable to contact the dentist on the telephone and discuss one's dental problem and let the dentist take a call whether to visit or not for the specific case. Everyone has got adapted to a new lifestyle due to the pandemic, and this paved way for the implementation of teledentistry and triage protocol on a priority basis.

What Are Teledentistry and Triage Protocols?

One should emphasize on prior dental appointments, cash-less payment, and prior telephonic consultation with the dentist about thepresent problem. It is advised for a dental professional to do telephone triage for all the dental patients. So as to access all the patient's dental condition and after that determine and arrange an appointment for particular patients requiring urgent treatment. Every patient should be contacted prior to appointments so as to discuss dental problems, and simultaneously patients should be screened on the telephone for any symptoms associated with coronavirus infection.

Other information like medical history, travel history should be taken from patients. With prior dental appointment waiting period for the patient gets reduced. As because the pandemic preparatory time for dental setting is increased between the appointments, a prior appointment will reduce waiting time. If patients have any related symptoms, then non-emergency dental procedures should be postponed, and advice related to the dental problem is given on the telephone for the possible COVID-19 patient. If it is possible, then one should postpone elective dental treatment till complete cure and until the isolation or quarantine period of the patient.

What Is the Patient's Role During Dental Visits?

  • The patient should actively participate in the screening procedure and should be honest in sharing your details and entire symptoms with the dentist.

  • The patient should accompany minimal or no visitors for an appointment.
  • The patient should ensure social distancing.
  • If the dentist is running late, then it is preferable to wait outside the clinic or in the car until the operatory is reset after the previous patient.
  • Patients and visitors are advised to wear a face mask and are advised to undergo sanitization protocol and screening protocol for fever, oxygen level, and other symptoms related to COVID-19.
  • If possible, try and avoid the use of restrooms, and if used, then avoid touching surfaces with bare hands. After usage, follow proper sanitization protocol.
  • Patients and visitors should come with minimal accessories and avoid using wristwatches and bags.

What Protocols Should Be Followed By the Dental Healthcare Professionals?

  • Dental healthcare professionals should make sure that everyone in the dental premises should follow hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, and cough, sneeze etiquette.
  • Instructions should be displayed in appropriate language at the entrance and waiting premises.
  • Patient and visitor should avoid touching lift buttons, door handles and frequently touched surfaces, etc.
  • The dental clinic should have glass or plastic barriers in the reception and consultation area.
  • The dentist will be using PPE that includes a head cap, face mask, face shield, and full-body gowns. Disposable things and PPE will be changed after every patient.

What Protocols Have To Be Followed at Home?

During this critical period, prevention is way better than cure, and so following are things that should be followed by the patient at home during this critical time:

  • Brush your teeth twice daily.
  • Avoid eating sticky food.
  • Use fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Drink plenty of water which helps to keep your oral cavity clean.
  • Do not leave your mouth dry. Rinse your mouth after eating to prevent caries.


With the intensity of the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone across the world is hesitant to step outside their homes. This poses difficulty for one to consult a dentist for their dental issues especially if one suffers from severe toothache. To have a safe dental treatment, one must cooperate with their dentist and schedule an appointment in advance so that the waiting time can be avoided. Other strategies to ensure a safe dental sitting should be followed as mentioned above. Since prevention is better than cure, one must follow the preventive measures mentioned above to avoid developing any serious dental issues. With teleconsultation being extremely beneficial during this pandemic, one can also consult a dentist online for their dental issues.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is Visiting the Dentist Secure?

The dental care team should wear gloves, a surgical mask, and safety glasses as per the standard operating procedure. By doing this, cross-infection between patients and dental care professionals can be avoided. Dental services providers must be particular about two aspects; one is to provide necessary services, and second, to reduce risk factors to the minimum of patients and related dental care employees. Due to this pandemic, a few more protocols for dental care professionals were added to the earlier protocols. So long as one takes the appropriate precautions, it is safe to visit a dental clinic.


If One Has a Sore Throat, Should They Reschedule an Appointment With the Dentist?

It is recommended to reschedule the appointment by letting the dentist know in advance of one's appointment and the inability to attend due to illness and believe treatment might not be possible. One might be highly contagious, and the staff or patients may be at risk of risk being infected with the same.


Can COVID Harm Gums and Teeth?

Covid causes fast, shallow breathing that bypasses the diaphragm in favor of the mouth, chest, and neck. When one breathes through the mouth, they produce less saliva, which is crucial for maintaining good dental health since it helps to wash away food particles and protect teeth from cavities. However, it directly increases the risk of tooth decay and unpleasant breath in the mouth.


How Can One Prevent COVID Spread to Dentists?

The use of particular PPEs (personal protective equipment), body temperature monitoring, oral rinses with 1 % hydrogen peroxide, telephone and clinical triage, and an assessment of recent symptoms and movements are all preventive methods against COVID-19 in dentistry practices.


In the Year 2022, Is a Mask Required at the dentist?

The dramatic decrease in COVID-19 instances is acknowledged in California's Revised Mask Guidance (2/28/2022). However, the advice also makes it clear that face masks will continue to be essential for everyone in the following situations, regardless of whether they have had their vaccinations
- Locations for health care, such as dentist offices.
- Public transportation, such as trains, buses, airlines, and ride-sharing services.
- Indoors in schools.
- Prisons at the federal, state, and local levels. 
- Homes for the homeless. 
- Adult care institutions and settings.
- Emergency shelters.


How Are Dentists Affected By COVID?

COVID has led to the successful implementation of new recommendations, including patient screening, temperature control, air purification, space, surface, and hand sanitizing, as well as the use of protective equipment and physical barriers. Additionally, to address oral and dental health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic and reduce virus transmission, there is a significant increase in teledentistry in pediatric dentistry, orthodontics, oral medicine, and periodontics. As a result, teleconsultation, telediagnosis, teletriage, tele-treatment, and telemonitoring have become important tools for both delivery of care and the academic and research training of oral health professionals.


Can a Dentist Diagnose Conditions of Sickness?

COVID-19 oral symptoms can include everything from sore throat to opportunistic infections like Candida albicans. It was emphasized that a thorough diagnostic oral evaluation must be conducted with this in mind because, in some circumstances, oral symptoms may be the first or the only indicator of a disease.


Is It Possible for a Dentist to Detect a Sore Throat?

The dentist will carefully examine the tonsils and throat to find any infection or swelling indications. The tonsils, like the tongue, can reveal a lot about an individual's health.


Is COVID a Mouth Condition?

The majority of COVID patients, up to 43 %, have dry mouths and take quick, shallow breaths utilizing their mouth, chest, and neck instead of their diaphragm. Nearly four out of ten COVID patients have impaired or total loss of taste. When patients breathe through their mouth, they produce less saliva, which is crucial for maintaining good dental health since it helps to wash away food particles and protect teeth from cavities. The risk of tooth decay and bad breath from the mouth.


Can the COVID-19 Virus Be Spread Orally?

When a virus-carrying person coughs, sneezes, or speaks, respiratory droplets are generated that transmit the infection. A person close may inhale these droplets, or they may land in their mouth or nose. In addition, the virus can be contracted by kissing someone infected or engaging in other sexual activities and coming in touch with their saliva.


How Long Does COVID Infection Last?

Most COVID-19 patients with mild illness recover in one to two weeks. However, recovery from severe cases can take six weeks or longer, and for some people, there may be lingering symptoms that may or may not damage the heart, kidneys, lungs, or brain.


Do Dentists Have the Authority to Scale and Polish?

Routine dental exams, teeth scaling and polishing, teeth whitening, moderate tooth discomfort, minor issues like halitosis, and other treatments that are not emergencies can be handled in later sessions.
However, it is always advisable to call the dentist, discuss the issue, and allow them to decide whether a visit in person is required for a particular situation. Since the epidemic forced people to adjust to a new way of life, dentists have had to implement teledentistry and triage procedures as quickly as possible.


What Are the Precautions Taken for Infection Control in Dentistry?

- The dental staff must wear surgical masks before entering the dental office or clinic. 
- They must then put on shoe coverings, throw the mask in a designated closed container, and wash their hands for at least one minute with a disinfecting hydroalcoholic solution or running water and soap. 
- Dental instruments and other non-disposable equipment are cleaned and sterilized in between appointments. 
- Needles and other disposable dental equipment should not be reused.
- All dental personnel involved in patient care must follow infection control protocols and use proper protective gear, such as gloves, masks, gowns, and eyewear, when necessary.


Is COVID Characterized by Sore Tongue and Throat?

Yes, usually, people affected by COVID experience symptoms like sore tongue and throat. Individuals with COVID-19 also have lumps, ulcers, edema, and tongue inflammation, in addition to the more well-known symptoms. It is referred to as the "COVID tongue."
The top of a person's tongue with COVID tongue may appear spotty and white, or it may appear red and bloated. In addition, they occasionally may note lumps or open patches known as ulcers on their tongue. Many COVID tongue sufferers also describe a loss of taste and a burning feeling in their mouths.


What Is the Remedy for COVID Mouth?

One might undergo specialized treatment if COVID mouth is more severe and does not improve with available treatment. This might comprise:
- The use of corticosteroids or other inflammatory drug treatments to reduce tongue swelling.
- Mouthwashes that fight bacteria, viruses, or fungi to cure pimples, patches, and ulcers. 
- Artificial saliva mouthwashes enhance overall tongue healing and fight dry mouth. 
- Ulcer treatment with low-level laser therapy.

Article Resources

Last reviewed at:
02 Aug 2023  -  5 min read




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