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Coronavirus and dental care: Why you should hope not to get a toothache

The Indian Dental Association has recommended to dentists across the country to suspend non-essential and non-urgent dental care up to March 31.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: March 19, 2020 8:45:07 pm
Coronavirus and dental care: Why you should hope not to get a toothache People wear masks in Mumbai in view of the coronavirus outbreak. (Express photo: Prashant Nadkar)

On Tuesday (March 17), the Indian Dental Association issued an advisory recommending dentists across the country to voluntarily suspend non-essential and non-urgent dental care up to March 31, due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“IDA does not make this request lightly, and it is being done of an abundance of caution during this serious outbreak and historic public health emergency,” the advisory said.

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On Monday, the American Dental Association (ADA) had first released a statement recommending dentists across the US to postpone elective procedures amid COVID-19.

In a handout issued on February 24, the ADA had advised dental health care personnel to identify and isolate patients with acute respiratory illnesses as they arrived.

Dentists and COVID-19

According to a report in The New York Times, dentists are among the workers who have the highest exposure to diseases as well as the highest proximity to others.

As per a database maintained by the US Department of Labor describing various physical aspects of different occupations, dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants had the highest exposure to COVID-19. These professionals face risks similar to respiratory therapy technicians and oral surgeons.

Dentists work extremely close to the mouths and throats of patients, and use instruments that generate spray and droplets from patients’ mouths. Experts say that it is highly difficult to minimise the risk of getting infected by the novel coronavirus, despite using best practices and protective clothing to minimise aerosols and droplets.

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Dentists, like other health workers, are at great risk, since they have to deal with diseases and infections on a daily basis while working in high proximity with patients as well as each other. Many health workers around the world have already been placed under quarantine because of exposure to the virus.

Several dental associations around the world are therefore issuing advisories that ask dental practitioners to decrease contact with patients, while only performing emergency dental care.

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