Shiflett Family Dental

A Dentist’s Response to the World Health Organization

September 3, 2020
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Posted By: Dr. Justin Shiflett
Patient smiling during exam

On August 3, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) released guidance to delay “routine non-essential oral health care - which usually includes oral health check-ups, dental cleanings, and preventive care...until there has been sufficient reduction in COVID-19 transmission rates from community transmission to cluster cases."  This may seem to be a reasonable recommendation based on an abundance of caution, but unfortunately, it is a hasty statement with no scientific basis. 

One issue with the WHO’s suggestion is that there have been no confirmed COVID-19 transmissions between a dental staff member and a patient. That’s right, not a single documented case of the coronavirus being passed from a patient to the dental team or vice versa. Really, it’s not that surprising when you think about it. A dental office follows strict infection control protocols, likely surpassed only by those observed in operating rooms. Pair this with the added measures offices are taking and the dental office turns out to be a pretty darn safe place after all. Feel free to check out our website to see what we are doing specifically at Shiflett Family Dental (https://www.shiflettfamilydental.com/appointment-procedures/cp). 

Additionally, the WHO seems to ignore the fact that oral health and overall health are undeniably linked.  Periodontal disease (gum disease) has been associated with many systemic health issues including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and premature birth. A recent study has also connected periodontal disease to COVID-19 with severe respiratory complications (http://www.mouthcovid.com/).  In short, this research shows that inflammation from periodontal disease can increase IL-6 levels in your body. High IL-6 levels make it more likely that you will be placed on a ventilator if you contract COVID-19; 22 times more likely, in fact. 

Based on the above facts, it seems reckless for the WHO to deem dental cleanings non-essential. The American Dental Association (ADA) also agrees that their recommendations are misguided. They issued a strong statement opposing the WHO on August 12, 2020(https://www.ada.org/en/press-room/news-releases/2020-archives/august/american-dental-association-dentistry-is-essential-health-care). 

If you have questions regarding this issue, be sure to talk to your dentist. You can reach the team at Shiflett Family Dental at (614)262-1807.

 

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