3 Reasons Why Dental Care is an Essential Service

November 13, 2020

The transmission of COVID-19 occurs through direct, indirect, or close contact with an infected individual. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released protocols to be practiced in public spaces, such as wearing face masks and social distancing. 

Dental health care practitioners are in very close contact with their patients for long periods. Face-to-face contact and regular exposure to saliva, blood, and other body fluids increase the risk of infection. According to WHO guideline, non-urgent oral health care should be deferred, including preventive care, dental check-ups, and dental cleanings.  

The American Dental Association (ADA) has stated their strong, yet respectful disagreement with WHO interim guidance delaying oral health care in particular circumstances, but permitting  ADA believes that oral health is vital to systemic health, and dentistry has an integral role in achieving that.? 

A Window to Your Overall Health 

The mouth is the entrance to the digestive and respiratory tracts. Some of the bacteria that coexist in the mouth may cause illness. The normal defenses of the body and proper oral health care usually keep bacteria under control. However, without good oral hygiene, bacteria can rise to a level that could progress to oral infections. If the mouth is unhealthy, the risk of severe health problems can increase. Here are some examples of infections caused by poor oral health: 

  • Endocarditis. Usually, an inner lining infection of the heart chamber or valve (endocardium) is caused by bacteria from another area of the body, like the mouth. The bacteria travels through the bloodstream and binds to certain locations in the heart. 
  • Cardiovascular disease. Evidence shows that inflammation and infections caused by oral bacteria may lead to heart disease, clogged arteries, and strokes. 
  • Complications during pregnancy and birth. Periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease, has been associated with premature birth and low birth weight.? 
  • Pneumonia. Pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses may arise from drawing bacteria from the mouth into the lungs. 

Some medicines, such as antihistamines, decongestants, and antidepressants, can also minimize saliva stream. The role of saliva in washing away food and neutralizing acids produced by bacteria in the mouth is crucial in protection from microbes that multiply and lead to disease. 

There are enough reasons to take good care of the mouth and make oral health care a routine. There is a relationship between oral health and overall health that makes dental practice essential. 

Understanding the Importance of Dental Care 

The stereotypes inherent in seeing the mouth apart from the rest of the body must stop since oral health impacts general health by inducing significant discomfort and distress and affecting what people eat, their voice, and their quality of life and well-being. 

  1. Oral hygiene has an impact on other chronic diseases. Oral diseases are the most common viral ailments and a major public health concern because of their prevalence, effects on people and society, and treatment expenses.
  2. Untreated oral diseases in adults are worse. To cope with dental concerns, there are only a few viable dental treatment schemes, and the cost is beyond the reach of most individuals.
  3. Physically and psychologically, oral health impacts people. Oral health has a direct impact on an individual’s overall well-being and self-esteem. It affects how they develop, communicate, eat food, and interact with others.

The role in assessing, diagnosing, and treating oral diseases that impact systemic health, including the quality of life of an individual, makes dentistry an essential health care provider. It is time to acknowledge dentistry as an imperative service to maintain Americans’ health. In this way, they can take care of their health and well-being and live resiliently. 

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Sources: 
https://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2020-archive/august/ada-respectfully-yet-strongly-disagrees-with-who-guidance-recommending-delay-of-dental-care 

https://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2020-archive/july/ada-board-of-trustees-dentistry-is-essential-health-care 

https://www.ada.org/en/press-room/news-releases/2020-archives/august/statement-on-dentistry-as-essential-health-care 

https://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/83/9/editorial30905html/en/ 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/dental/art-20047475 

https://www.ada.org/en/press-room/news-releases/2020-archives/august/statement-on-dentistry-as-essential-health-care#:~:text=Oral%20health%20is%20an%20integral,which%20can%20affect%20systemic%20health.