Dentists sharply disagree with WHO advice to delay routine checkups

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Thursday, August 13, 2020
Action News coverage of the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak

ABINGTON, Pa. (WPVI) -- When COVID-19 cases jumped in March, dentists postponed everything except emergency cases.

Now they are open for routine care, following strict guidelines.

But the World Health Organization and some dental hygienists say there's still too much risk.

The WHO says checkups and cleanings should be postponed because dentists are exposed to saliva, blood, and aerosols which may have the coronavirus.

But the American Dental Association strongly disagrees.

The group's president says "Oral health is integral to overall health. Dentistry is essential health care."

Dr. Jay Freedman says dentists have dealt with many infectious diseases in the past.

And they're now following ADA and CDC precautions against COVID-19.

It starts with the highest level of protective gear, but includes many other layers.

"We've added air filtration. My waiting room is now the parking lot. We screen ourselves when we come in. We do a health check, a temperature check. We check our patient's temperature, we do a pre-screen COVID questionnaire when they make the appointment, before they come in for the appointment," says Dr. Freedman.

And new technology can drastically cut virus in the air.

"There was a study out of Ohio State that says high-speed suction can capture 97% of the aerosols that are produced during a procedure," he says.

Dr. Freedman says the stress of the pandemic has lead to dental problems such as shingles of the mouth and also grinding teeth.

He and many dentists feel checkups are essential to overall health but he tells patients to make sure your dental office is following protocols.