Last month the World Health Organization (WHO) did a “head fake” on whether COVID-19 could be spread as an aerosol (tiny, microscopic droplets). WHO first mentioned that reports suggested the virus was airborne, then WHO failed to confirm that the virus travels through the air.
Now WHO guidelines suggest that people put off routine dental care out of fears that airborne viral particles will infect dentists and dental workers with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Although little data are available on how often people are infected with COVID-19 after a dental visit, the WHO believes people could be in danger from routine dentistry when water or air spraying tools are used, when ultrasound cleaning equipment is used and during tooth polishing. Their guidelines suggest that dental care should be limited to emergency procedures.
The WHO also suggests that dental facilities be well ventilated to reduce spread of the virus. They suggest dental workers be aggressive in use of personal protective equipment.
Bacteria in the mouth not only can cause inflamed gums and tooth decay, they also can spread throughout the body. Those who don’t get dental care may be at an increased risk of developing system-wide problems—especially those who have immune issues.
The human mouth holds 6 billion bacteria at any given time. Seven hundred species of bacteria are found in the mouth, about two dozen of which are associated with diseases elsewhere in the body. Gum disease has been linked to rheumatoid arthritis and pneumonia. Bad bacteria in the mouth even can travel to your brain and have been linked to neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
If you choose (or your dentist chooses) to put off dental care during the coronavirus pandemic, take care of your teeth. Limit sweets to limit bacteria. Brush and floss regularly. Keep your mouth well hydrated. Bacteria multiply more quickly when the mouth is too dry.
Those with heart disease or heart valve dysfunction should be especially vigilant about oral health; bacteria or even fungi from the mouth can travel through the bloodstream and infect the heart, a condition called bacterial endocarditis.
Disclaimer: This article does not provide medical advice. Do not take action based solely on this article and always consult with an appropriate healthcare professional. This article is purely for informational purposes.