Groups Buck WHO: "Don't Let COVID Delay Dental Health Any Longer"

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Some health organizations are not seeing eye to eye when it comes to dental care during the pandemic.

The World Health Organization recently recommended routine dental visits be delayed until there is a sufficient reduction in COVID-19 transmission rates. But many dental health professionals don't agree with the new guidance, including American Association of Endodontists president Dr. Alan Gluskin.

He said dentists and oral health providers are following strict safety precautions to protect patients and workers. And he added endodontists, who specialize in root-canal treatment, are using technology to treat patients from a distance.

"We are using microscopes 100% of the time to be able to look down into a tooth to clean out an infection so we can work on the patient two or three feet from their mouth and not have to climb into their mouth to do our root-canal work," Gluskin said.

The American Dental Association also disagreed with the WHO and released a new interim policy stating oral health is integral to overall health. It noted regular dental visits are important to treat and prevent disease.

Gluskin noted dental settings already are very sterile environments, and said practitioners are following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reduce possible transmission, including pre-visit screenings and the use of proper personal protective equipment.

He added tooth problems only worsen when left untreated.

"If you ignore swelling around your gum and jaw because you've neglected a filling that needs to be done on your tooth or a filling that's fallen out of your tooth, or you've got a throbbing ache in your jaw, you need help," he said.

The CDC and WHO have not reported any confirmed cases of COVID-19 transmitted in a dental office.
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