Research shows that up to 90% of children across the globe deal with untreated dental caries.
These youngsters face the potential for long-term and short-term consequences: worsening pain and discomfort that intensifies without treatment, and difficulties eating, sleeping, learning, playing if the problem persists. Left untreated, the circumstances can be severe enough to necessitate surgery.
These adverse outcomes are discouraging, since they’re easily preventable with proper education.
As such, there’s really no substitute for providing quality education on this growing issue. And since not all families in the United States and Canada have consistent access to dental care, this education often comes from nurses, teachers, and social workers.
However, there are two crucial caveats:
The information must be accurate.
It also must be consistent.
Recently, a first-of-its-kind study published in the journal BMC Oral Health assessed the effectiveness of childhood dental advice given to expectant parents and parents with toddlers by non-dental professionals (such as teachers, social workers) on children's oral health.
Alarmingly, these researchers’ findings suggest that this non-professional advice yields mixed results.
Effectiveness of Preventive Dental Programs Offered By Non-Dental Professionals
In this study, researchers analyzed five databases, seeking out quantitative studies that assessed the success of dental interventions by non-dental professionals. The interventions were focused on expectant mothers and mothers of toddlers.
All of the nine chosen studies measured the following results:
Outcomes and changes in the children’s teeth just before the age of five; and
Outcomes and changes of said children’s mothers at the same time.
The goal of this research was discovering if current mother-centric oral health programs are generating positive results. Researchers also wanted to discern the comprehensiveness of these programs, and whether they lack education that could be valuable to patients’ dental health.
The results were decidedly mixed. When the mother was guided by a well-rounded team of specialists (e.g., social workers, nurses, and dental professionals), the toddlers had fewer dental caries and extractions compared to toddlers with mothers not receiving guidance. The results were more positive when childhood dental advice was paired with free dental supplies such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, and interdental aids.
However, while the children of mothers with teams guiding them got off to a great start, these positive results don't continue after toddlerhood. Most of the mothers making use of these programs lacked a fundamental understanding of dental-related issues.
Additionally, there appears to be a lack of cohesiveness in dental education shared by non-dental professionals. Issues with accuracy and omitted details were both prevalent.
The Crucial Role of Dental Professionals
Despite a lack of statistical support, it is clear from the results that these programs do help many families who wouldn’t otherwise have access to care. However, it is also evident that such programs would benefit from greater involvement from dentists, registered dental hygienists, and other dental professionals.
As a dental professional, our success in enhancing these younger patients’ outcomes is predicated on how well we communicate with the non-dental professionals involved in their care. Dental professionals can provide accurate and viable information about dental hygiene best practices and preventative care that ensure families in these programs receive correct information and cohesive guidance.
You’ve undoubtedly come to notice the frequency at which your child patients experience dental caries.
No, your practice isn’t some statistical aberration. According to a case-control study called, “Impact Of Inhaler Use On Dental Caries In Asthma Pediatrics Patients” 90% of schoolchildren aged 5-17 years in America have dental caries.
The use of inhalers is not solely affecting youth in America. The World Health Organization (WHO) cites that 60%-90% of children in some Asian and Latin American countries are also at risk of dental caries due to inhaler use.
While tooth decay is a risk for all children, getting dental caries seems to be likelier for those with asthma.
The Connection Between Dental Caries and Asthma
Pediatric patients (10-15% male, 7-10% female) are most frequently afflicted with the chronic inflammatory airway disorder known as asthma.
The recent case study discusses how suffering from asthma makes your younger patients more vulnerable to dental caries. This issue stems from these children having different biological mechanisms—such as changes in salivary composition.
Biological changes occur due to sources within the body and external factors, namely, administering inhaled drugs. Such treatments alter both the quality and quantity of saliva.
Furthermore, inhalers possess sugar as a substrate for cariogenic bacteria. Through a series of biological processes, there’s a reduction in salivary secretion and protein synthesis.
Something else to consider is that when your child patients with asthma use their inhalers, only 10-20% of the drug reaches their lower airways. The remainder of the substance rests at the oropharynx and upper airways level. This turns the treatment into a substrate for cariogenic bacteria that alters the oral pH.
With all this being said, the direct relationship between inhaler treatment-duration and dental caries' prevalence should be no surprise.
Can You Help Prevent Dental Caries?
Before we delve deep into preventative measures for dental caries, there's one thing that's worth celebrating. The addition of fluoride to drinking water has reduced the amount of decay in children’s teeth by 18-40%.
While that statistic is worth a subdued victory dance, the battle against dental caries still rages on. The numbers remain exceptionally high, and you want to ensure that your patients experience the best possible dental health outcomes.
Communication is critical to help craft a proactive plan to avoid this issue. At the very least, it can mitigate how often your child patients experience dental caries.
What Preventative Measures Against Dental Caries Can You Teach to Your Patients?
As dental professionals, it's all too easy to assume your patients have the base-level knowledge to maintain sound oral health.
When a child has asthma, it then becomes even more pivotal to instill sound oral hygiene habits. These patients are not only dealing with the everyday obstacles of being a child, but also struggle with the pitfalls of being asthmatic.
It’s immeasurably valuable for you to outline the following list of proactive measures to prevent dental caries:
First and foremost, brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste is highly beneficial. This initial effort can be bolstered by flossing or using interdental cleaner between the teeth.
Brushing and flossing alone isn’t necessarily a 100% failproof form of dental caries-prevention. Your child patients can’t be eating diets ridden with sugar and sodium. Instead, they require balanced, nutritious meals.
On top of that, regular dental-hygiene maintenance at your practice is a must—especially for your patients with asthma. Implement a pre-planned schedule for cleanings and oral examinations.
You should also offer insights about strengthening their teeth with supplemental fluoride. Beyond that, you can talk to them about protecting chewing surfaces with dental sealants.
In short, your patients with asthma require a consistent dental regimen, that bolsters their hygiene for the long haul.
Keeping Your Dental Patients with Asthma Safe
Dental caries isn't necessarily the end of the world for your patients. However, it’s a minor inconvenience that can quickly turn into a far bigger problem if left untreated. An abundance of adverse health consequences and financial burdens are associated when this kind of tooth decay persists.
Your patients with asthma are more at risk, especially as they continue to use inhalers. Therefore, you must take extra care to offer preventative measures to better their quality of life.
Depending on where your dental practice is located, you’ve likely reopened — but notice that patients are hesitant to visit your practice in-person.
These fears aren’t unfounded. The CDC’s COVID-19 Infection Prevention Team warns that dental settings have unique characteristics that warrant specific infection control considerations. Being in an environment where instruments create visible sprays with particle droplets of saliva, blood, and microorganisms feels risky, even where case numbers are low.
Now, we’d be remiss in failing to mention how there haven't been any COVID cases connected to dental practices as of yet. But with surfaces potentially being contaminated for 3 hours, industry professionals need to find a way to treat clients who refuse to visit their offices.
What can fill this gap in dental care?
Increasingly, it looks like teledentistry might be the answer.
What is Teledentistry?
Teledentistry applies the same principles of telehealth, except with the scope only revolving around oral health.
This kind of care utilizes various technologies to provide dental care and education to treat patients remotely.
Through the following methods (and more), dental professionals can provide “tele-dental” services to their patients:
This can happen with either Skype, Zoom, or other video-chat technology, and it happens in real-time.
Store and forward
Patients store and send their health information via radiographs, photographs, video, digital impressions, and photomicrographs to their practitioners.
The practitioner looks at this information at a different time than when it's sent (so, it's not in real-time).
Remote Patient monitoring
Different dental practices can share information (usually through data processing services) to provide supportive care or direct care.
Mobile communication devices such as cell phones, tablet computers, and personal digital assistants (PDA) can help support dental care.
The Future of Teledentistry
Eventually, there will be a vaccine for COVID. At that point, fears over the virus will begin to subside. However, that doesn’t mean that teledentistry is only temporary.
Once you’ve shown patients the capabilities of teledentistry, it’s akin to opening Pandora’s box. Sure, there’s going to be instances where in-person visits are unavoidable. Yet research shows that patient success-rates are the same when they use telehealth compared to when they don’t.
Therefore, this convenient form of care doesn’t seem to come at the cost of quality.
There’s also the matter of general dental anxiety. Some patients fear oral care for reasons outside of the pandemic. Teledentistry provides these people with an option to avoid dealing with the stress of in-person visits.
It seems like teledentistry will remain a significant part of many practices, even when everything returns to "normal."
The Long-Term Benefits of Teledentistry
Let’s take a look at the benefits that clearly outline why teledentistry is here to stay:
1. Reducing Overhead Costs
Virtual consultations manage to mitigate potential miscalculations for appointment times. The nature of emergency treatments isn’t always apparent when only a phone call is involved, leading to dentists blocking off too much time. Similar missteps occur with more straightforward visits for prescriptions.
Knowing how long appointments streamlines that day and ensures time is being spent most efficiently. Plus, prescribing medications during virtual calls opens up chair-time to patients who need it.
2. Removing Geographical Limitations
Teledentistry can be a fantastic boon for people that live in communities with limited access to dental care. They can receive guidance and prescriptions to better their oral health while at home or in the office. That's a far more realistic option than driving 2 hours for a half-hour examination!
Moreover, it gives you a chance to expand your patient-base by offering routine care to people who usually can't access it.
3. Improving the Patient Experience
Many patients are incredibly busy with their work and family. Teledentistry will meet these people in the middle. They won’t need to block off big chunks of time to drive and sit around at the office on top of the appointment.
Other patients lack transportation, and teledentistry offers them an alternative to paying an expensive cab fare or bothering someone for a ride.
Teledentistry Will Revolutionize the Dental Industry
You’ll want to strike while the iron is hot with teledentistry because it’s not going anywhere — even when the pandemic is long gone. As technology advances and patients begin to expect more from their dental care, adopting this technology will be a primary component of any thriving practice.
As your dental practice begins to welcome patients again, their safety and that of your dentists, hygienists, and the rest of your staff is paramount.
With a heightened public awareness of cleanliness, sanitation, and safety, any hint of poor practices can damage your reputation. Furthermore, you can’t afford to put yourself, your team, and your community in harm’s way.
Unfortunately, many dentists aren’t protecting themselves or their patients from the potential infections that come with being exposed to those germs, particularly in the form of dental aerosols.
What Are Dental Aerosols? Are They Related to COVID-19?
The working definition of a dental aerosol is a solid or liquid particle in a gas, produced during many dental procedures, under 50μm in diameter (anything bigger is classified as splatter.) Dental aerosols are created when scalers, drills, and other high-speed equipment interact with saliva, blood, or plaque.
Although not all dental aerosols are harmful, these airborne materials can contain harmful bacteria and viruses, including COVID-19. Dentists who treat patients using aerosolization are at high risk of infecting themselves, their dental assistants, and others working at their practice.
It should then come as no surprise that dentists find themselves afflicted with respiratory infections more frequently than most, due to the perils of their environment. In addition to concerns regarding COVID-19, there is also proof of aerosols harbouring other cross-infection risks, including the common cold, sinusitis, pharyngitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, SARS, influenza, and swine flu.
Moreover, harmful pathogens caused by aerosols linger in the atmosphere long after you’ve finished with your patients. In fact, contamination occurs most frequently due to the inhalation of infectious particles after they have settled on surfaces.
Another way aerosol contamination often occurs is when the evacuation system or dental unit waterlines are of poor quality or have been compromised in some way. This can result from water stagnation, inadequate cleaning, heating of your chair unit, and reservoir bottle contamination.
The health risks of aerosols vary between patients, depending on their saliva, blood, plaque, and mucus, and if there's any infection present.
Managing Aerosols at Your Practice
The perils of aerosols can be mitigated through proactive aerosol management measures, such correct fittings, appropriate level masks, high volume suction, and the use of products that protect the patient’s nasal passages. You and your team should adhere to a comprehensive infection-prevention plan the moment patients enter the practice.
Given that the risk level of a dental aerosol depends on a patient’s health, you should gain a full medical history of your clients. This means completing a thorough examination and making your patient rinse their mouth with a microbial mouth rinse before treatments.
Face masks, of at least ASTM Level 3, should be snugly covering your mouth and nose. Only use a mask for one appointment, switching to a new one for each patient.
Regarding treatment-based equipment, flush lines and reservoirs with a microbial evacuation system cleaner like Bio-Pure. Bio-Pure is a non-foaming, 100% natural cleaner that can be used anywhere there is organic waste and water, including plaster traps, cuspidors, and drains.
Dental aerosols are a major concern for infection control within dental care, especially in light of COVID-19. We hope that this advice will help you and your team feel safer and better prepared to face this post-pandemic world with confidence. Reach out to us to learn more about any of our EPA-compliant cleaning products.
Evaluate your office/practice and assess the surfaces and materials that comprise the space.
Light switches, doorknobs, and other regular areas will need extra attention paid for cleaning and disinfection to reduce the risk of spreading germs.
Now it’s time to execute on what you’ve developed.
To ensure optimal cleaning/disinfecting, thoroughly read the manufacturer's instructions for all products.
During any cleaning and disinfecting, ensure that you’re wearing gloves and other required personal protective equipment (PPE).
3. Maintenance and Revision
Continue to update your implemented plan based on evolving guidelines.
Also, keep an eye out for potential blind-spots you might have had during the development stage.
How to Properly Clean & Disinfect a Surface
People tend to conflate ‘cleaning’ and ‘disinfecting’ when they’re really two separate processes. One valuable source of information breaks down the dual-process in very straightforward terms:
For cleaning, your primary focus is the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. This way, you’ll mitigate the potential for infections to spread.
After cleaning is when disinfectant products do their best work. They kill the lingering germs on surfaces, thus further offsetting the possible spread of infection.
As has been established in the previous section, wear gloves and any other necessary PPE to keep yourself safe. Given that you’re working in a dental office, additional protective equipment should be considered.
Clearing Up the Confusion: Cleaners Versus Disinfectants
Cleaning can be performed with water and either soap or detergent.
Conversely, disinfectants are generally sprays, concentrates, and wipes—all of which can be employed in preventing COVID-19.
According to the EPA and CDC, following the product label instructions is a non-negotiable must. Doing so will keep you informed on how long you should leave products on the surfaces to successfully eliminate germs. There’s also the matter of rinsing the product so that you don’t ingest harmful chemicals. Plus, you want to keep those products out of the reach of children.
Something else to consider is that it’s been suggested not to overuse or stockpile both disinfectants and PPEs. Given the current circumstances and the need to combat COVID-19, you need to do your part in preventing shortages in the case of emergencies.
Lastly, you might experience a situation where the EPA's requested disinfectants aren't accessible. In this instance, those same guidelines establish other ways to disinfect surfaces that are equally effective at staving off COVID-19.
Click here for a list of CDC and EPA-requested disinfectants.
Other Crucial EPA & CDC Guidelines to Consider
Naturally, running a dental practice exposes you, your staff, and your clients to an array of excess germs compared to the average business.
Thus, measures must be in place to protect everyone who'll come into contact with your practice and the surrounding community. This means stringent social distancing rules must be maintained.
Furthermore, all practice staff should be wearing cloth face coverings and frequently washing their hands. Keep on top of federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local guidelines as they continue to evolve and shift in nature.
Adapting to the New Normal
These guidelines might seem a little bit intense, and something of a headache on top of everything else required to run your practice. After all, being successful in the dental industry requires in-depth focus and dedication outside of keeping your office COVID-proof.
However, maintaining these cleaning and disinfecting standards contributes to the greater good of society. All while keeping your practice safe. And eventually, at least until there’s a vaccine, these methods will slowly become second nature.
Above all else, you’ll find that these measures offer you tremendous peace of mind!
PPE, short for personal protective equipment, has always been important to dental professionals. It helps us protect ourselves and our patients from the spread of germs and disease. But with the COVID-19 pandemic this year, wearing PPE is more crucial than ever.
Healthcare professionals are now the most at-risk group for coronavirus as they work in close contact with patients. The challenges surrounding PPE use, as well as the risk of PPE failure is unfolding before our eyes.
As a result, PPE must be used vigilantly by all healthcare professionals, including dentists and dental hygienists.
But one side effect of PPE that isn’t often discussed is the severe skin damages it can cause – especially when preventative measures aren’t taken to combat it.
Here, we’ll highlight how the use of PPE can result in skin damage, how to minimize skin damage, and how your own dental practice can be proactive in mitigating the risk.
Types of Common Skin Damage While Using PPE
A new study on medical workers treating COVID-19 patients discovered that 42.8% of staff experienced serious skin damage linked to the use of PPE. These items included masks, goggles, face shields, and protective gowns.
The study consisted of 2,732 medical respondents. They were among the first healthcare workers fighting coronavirus in emergency departments, screening clinics, isolation areas, infectious branches, and as well as voluntary staff who wore PPE.
According to the study’s findings, 1,844 medical respondents experienced 4,735 skin injuries, equating to 2.6 skin injuries per respondent. Stage 1 injuries were registered by 81.1% of the respondents, 18.3% experienced stage 2, and 0.6% suffered from deep tissue injury.
Researchers discovered three main types of skin injuries relating to PPE: device-related pressure injuries, moisture associated skin damage, and skin tear.
Various factors increased the risk of skin damage. These include heavy sweating, longer daily wearing time, being male, and using grade 3 instead of grade 2 PPE.
Interestingly, skin injuries were more common in males than females, with 59.7% of men experiencing damage compared to 40.5% of women. Doctors were also more likely to suffer skin damage from PPE than nurses, with 51.9% of doctors experiencing injuries than 41.6% of nurses.
Skin injuries from PPE were also more common in the following groups:
Those wearing grade 3 PPE compared those wearing grade 2 (88.5% versus 21.0%)
Those using PPE longer than four hours than those with daily use time equal to or less than four hours (47.3% versus 18.7%)
Those older than 35 than those younger than 35 (46.3% versus 41.2%)
Those with considerable sweating than those without considerable sweating (91.3% versus 17.8%)
Avoiding Skin Damage When Using PPE
The same study also concluded that the treatment of skin injuries relating to PPE was insufficient.
Only 17.7% of respondents applied prophylactic dressings and lotions that protect the skin. Medical staff and managers overlooked skin protection during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, and respondents received no training or education in prevention.
To prevent damage to the skin when using PPE, dentists and hygienists are advised to use preventative methods such as prophylactic dressings and lotions to avoid tear and injury. If you so become injured, these wounds must be treated immediately with hydrocolloid dressing, oil, or cream to ensure a quick recovery and to avoid infection when treating patients.
Preparing for PPE Skin Injuries During a Pandemic
That’s because medical staff and managers overlooked skin protection during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. As well as this, respondents received no training or education in prevention and didn’t know how to use dressings.
Of course, in the height of the pandemic, the risk of skin injury is unlikely to be a priority. But today, as dentists and dental hygienists prepare to reopen, we can and should be vigilant.
To reduce the risk of skin injuries and infection in wearing PPE, dental professionals should provide their staff with resources and training in skin protection; and protective items should be chosen and distributed to staff according to guidelines.
Since the spread of the coronavirus, researchers have focused their efforts on the development of a vaccine to protect people from contracting the virus. But scientists estimate that an effective and publicly available vaccine could take up to 18 months to create.
In the meantime, scientists are looking for ways to reduce the rate of infection to keep from overwhelming hospitals worldwide.
But can gargling mouthwash really help fight the spread of this virus?
Let’s take a closer look at this new research.
Research on Mouthwash and Coronavirus
Published in the journal Function, a team of international researchers implemented a scientific review of over 100 articles to learn whether mouthwash can reduce transmission of this coronavirus in the early stages of infection.
SARS-CoV-2, the strain that causes COVID-19, is a virus with a fatty (lipid) membrane. The team states that previous studies prove that ingredients often found in mouthwashes can disturb the infection's lipid membrane. This then reduces its spread.
Coronavirus-tackling mouthwash ingredients are said to include ethanol, chlorhexidine, cetyl pyridinium chloride, and hydrogen peroxide.
The researchers also evaluated existing formulations of mouthwash on their potential to disturb the SARS-CoV-2 lipid envelope based on the concentration of the potent ingredients used. It was concluded that several of them warrant clinical assessment.
It was noted that the lipid envelope doesn’t vary when viruses mutate; if the method is effective, then it should still work against any new coronavirus strains that develop.
Gargling mouthwash containing the above ingredients may inactivate the virus in the throat, which in turn could help prevent coughing and sneezing, according to the study, although we still lack concrete evidence of this effect.
Scientists are calling for more research on whether mouthwashes could protect people against the spread of coronavirus. The quicker such evidence is evaluated and published, the faster the public can help protect themselves from coronavirus using new methods.
Further Research Is Necessary
In test-tube experiments and various clinical studies, some mouthwash formulas contain enough known virucidal ingredients to combat lipids in similar enveloped viruses. However, gargling mouthwash hasn’t yet been recommended by major public health bodies as a way to prevent coronavirus.
In the study, the team concluded there was an urgent need to test the success of ingredients found in mouthwashes in clinical trials. It isn’t clear whether oral rinses could have any effect in battling coronavirus, as safety and exposure are also things that must be considered.
The scientists noted that the pathogen is, “highly sensitive to agents that disrupt lipid bio-membranes.” If successful, this could prove that the agents found in distributed mouthwashes could be used for other strains of coronaviruses. These are strains that could lead to any illness from the common cold to SARS.
Mouthwash brands such as Listerine have been advising consumers not to use mouthwash as a method of fighting COVID-19.
“LISTERINE® mouthwash has not been tested against the coronavirus and is not intended to prevent or treat COVID-19. Consumers should follow the preventive measures issued by the World Health Organization, including washing hands frequently, maintaining social distance and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth,” the website notes.
Protecting Yourself From COVID-19
The researchers behind the study make it clear that their work is speculative. More studies must be conducted to learn whether mouthwashes are appropriate for defence mechanisms against the spread of coronavirus.
Nevertheless, the work demonstrates that this is an important area to study. This research is urgent by the current global public health crisis, and learning new ways to protect against strains of coronavirus is critical.
As we wait for potential new studies, it’s crucial to continue to follow mandated protective methods to protect yourself and others from contracting coronavirus.
Consumers should follow the preventative methods of safety, as announced by the World Health Organization. These methods include washing hands often, maintaining social distance from others, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
There's no denying the array of adverse health consequences associated with failing to brush one's teeth - yet many of your patients probably still struggle with maintaining regular and thorough brushing.
Of course, we must continue to press forward and encourage patients to brush!
As you know, daily brushing prevents harmful bacteria from causing oral infections (e.g., tooth decay and gum disease). However, as we develop a deeper understanding of the oral-systemic link, it is clear that oral health has a strong connection to a wide variety of conditions beyond the oral cavity.
For example, there's reason to believe that keeping up with oral hygiene can protect from severe respiratory infections; a study from 2011 has linked gum disease to poor lung health.
Brushing regularly also fends off bacteria called fusobacterium nucleatum. High levels of this bacterium have been found in patients with colorectal cancer.
The bacteria connected to gum disease, P. gingivitis, is also believed to contribute to worsened rheumatoid arthritis. In studies with mice, researchers found a form of rheumatoid arthritis RA was further exacerbated with the addition of P. gingivitis, which promoted bone and cartilage breakdown.
The Science Behind Oral Health's Impact on Heart Health
When your patients brush their teeth twice a day – for at least two minutes – the risk for cardiovascular disease is lessened. Various studies have been performed on this subject, looking at it from different angles.
In the next section, we'll look at several studies that highlight how vital brushing teeth is to your patients' heart health.
One study assessed how lacking in oral hygiene causes bacteria to emanate in the blood. This leads to body inflammation, which is conducive to an irregular heartbeat and heart failure.
The researchers examined the results provided by 161,286, aged 40 to 79, who had no history of the conditions mentioned above. After routine medical examinations, information was collected about various health factors, including oral health and oral hygiene behaviours.
There was a follow-up after 10.5 years that showed 3% of participants with an irregular heartbeat and 4.9% with heart failure.
The findings revealed that those brushing their teeth 3-plus times per day had a 10% lower risk of experiencing an irregular heartbeat. It was also decided that adhering to those best-practice oral hygiene standards generated a 12% lower risk of heart failure after the 10.5-year follow-up.
Though, these findings didn't consider things like age, sex, socioeconomic status, regular exercise, alcohol consumption, body mass index, and comorbidities (e.g., hypertension).
Another study that was presented to the American Heart Association took an in-depth look at heart health.
More specifically, those involved in the research examined whether a person's teeth-brushing habits impacted their risk of experiencing a heart attack, heart failure or stroke.
682 people were queried about their oral hygiene habits. It was found through various mechanisms that those brushing less than twice per day for less than two minutes were at an increased risk of those negative heart-centric consequences.
Compared to those brushing at least twice a day for at least two minutes, less frequent brushers presented a three-fold higher possibility of experiencing those heart-related ailments.
The Facts Speak for Themselves: Oral Health is Simply “Health”
Some patients might brush aside (pardon the pun) the importance of brushing their teeth. They might mistakenly believe that keeping their mouths clean and fresh is mostly aesthetic in its function.
However, with the above information, you can show to your patients how vital brushing their teeth can be to their overall health.
Dental patients must have a full understanding that oral health isn't its own category. Instead, what happens in our mouths plays a role in the rest of our bodies. Such a notion should be a primary focus in how we all care for ourselves.
Your dental practice has undoubtedly felt the impact of COVID-19.
But when the dust settles from the crisis, and you begin to adapt to the new normal, people will begin to think about their oral care. Think about everyone who has put off receiving cleanings, checkups, and fillings due to shutdowns!
While you shouldn’t struggle too much to book patients, there might be hiccups along the way. Below are some helpful strategies that can help you bounce back and even thrive in a post-coronavirus world.
How Should You Prepare to Re-Open Your Dental Practice?
As we mentioned a moment ago, there’s likely going to be a backlog of patients needing dental care after emergency shutdowns come to an end. It’s been months, and people have neglected their oral health for too long.
Dental experts have pointed out that before the pandemic, there was a struggle in finding available, quality staff. Now, with time on your side, you can assemble a high-level team capable of efficiently managing the abundance of appointments that will flood your practice.
If you reopen without the personnel to keep things running smoothly, you may stumble out of the gate.
Prepare Your Staff For A New Reality
Now, you might be thinking: “But how can I get my staff ready for a post-COVID practice?”
The answer to this question is straightforward: communication.
A mistake of many practice owners has been a failure to keep in touch with furloughed staff, who would naturally fear the worst. Merely making a phone-call to your temporarily laid-off team members and updating them on where things stand could go a long way....even if it’s to tell them you’re not sure where things stand just yet.
Now, with rumblings about re-openings becoming more frequent, communication is more critical than ever. You can go over game plans, let everyone know about safety/sanitation expectations, and discuss how teamwork can help your practice make up for the lost time.
What to Expect In The Days and Weeks Prior to Re-opening
Frankly, your practice should expect some road bumps before re-opening.
Given the nature of this pandemic, and how scared everybody is, there’s going to be hesitation with dental practices. After all, even though most practitioners keep safe and adhere to strict cleanliness standards, there will always be concerns about the transfer of germs.
The government should be providing your province, city, town, or region with expectations or guidelines of post-COVID standards and practices. Customers will also likely have an array of questions about what measures are in place to keep them safe.
Be understanding and empathetic with these questions, as well as transparent about what you know and don’t know.
Lastly, expect some hesitation from past patients who usually schedule maintenance checkups and cleanings. Many people are going to be out of work and without dental insurance, unable to afford your services.
So, when you’re trying to schedule appointments right before you re-open, some of your regulars might not be booking with you.
Whether you offer patients workarounds, such as the option to pay in installments, or you lower your prices is up to you. It might make sense to raise prices to make up for any potential loss in business due to the increased unemployment rate.
Your Practice Can Thrive in a Post COVID-19 World
Those in the dental industry have chosen one of the most practical fields of work in the world. No matter the state of the economy, people need their wisdom teeth taken out, cavities filled, and their teeth cleaned.
You’ve built a strong enough client-base to work around any COVID-related issues to successfully bounce back when the shutdown has reached its end. It’s what you do now, proactively, that will help you navigate the murky waters that will exist during life after COVID-19!
Given the circumstances, it is worth taking a closer look at the potential benefits and drawbacks of this commonly-used mouthwash.
What is Chlorhexidine?
Chlorhexidine (also known by its generic name, Chlorhexidine gluconate), is an antimicrobial oral rinse that, when coupled with regular tooth brushing and flossing, can be used to treat gingivitis. Chlorhexidine reduces the amount and diversity of bacteria in the mouth, which helps alleviate swelling, redness and bleeding of the gums caused by gingivitis.
Chlorhexidine is generally prescribed to patients for twice-daily use: once after breakfast and again right before bedtime. Like other kinds of mouthwash, patients are instructed to measure out about a half-ounce (15 milliliters) of the solution, swish it in their mouths for about 30 seconds, and then spit it out. Prescription mouthwashes with chlorhexidine have been widely available for more than 30 years.
However, mouthwash containing chlorhexidine has been shown to significantly increase the abundance of lactate-producing bacteria that lowers the saliva pH, which could increase the risk of tooth damage.
Why Oral Bacteria is Not Always a Bad Thing
Researchers at the University of Plymouth carried out a trial on the effects of mouthwash containing chlorhexidine, giving placebo mouthwash to subjects for a few days, followed by seven days of mouthwash containing chlorhexidine.
By the end of each period, the researchers analyzed the microbiome and pH levels in each person. They also looked at things like lactate, how well acids were neutralised (also known as saliva buffering capacity), as well as other factors related to oral health.
According to Dr. Zoe Brookes, co-author of the study and lecturer at the University of Plymouth's Peninsula Dental School, dental clinicians need more information about how mouthwashes can alter the balance of oral bacteria to in order to prescribe them correctly.
“This paper is an important first step in achieving this,” says Dr. Brooks.
Co-author Dr. Louise Belfield adds, “We have significantly underestimated the complexity of the oral microbiome and the importance of oral bacteria in the past. Traditionally the view has been that bacteria are bad and cause diseases. But we now know that the majority of bacteria – whether in the mouth or the gut – are essential for sustaining human health.”
The authors believe this is the first study to examine the impact of 7-day use of chlorhexidine on the oral microbiome – important insight, given the renewed popularity of this mouthwash in the current climate.
More information is still needed to determine how the chemical works on viruses, however, some suggest that chlorhexidine kills COVID-19 since it kills other viruses, like H5N1 (bird flu), H3N2 (influenza virus), and H1N1 (swine flu) and thus could help reduce the new infection rates among healthy people (or help to flatten the curve).