Dental professionals face an increased risk of exposure to the coronavirus

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – According to WVUToday, dental professionals face an especially high risk of occupational exposure to the coronavirus.

Fotinos Panagakos, Vice Dean of Administration and Research for the West Virginia University School of Dentistry, said that they are taking extra precautions by pre-screening patients by taking their temperature, asking them questions regarding travel in the last two weeks, asking how they’re feeling and if they have flu-like symptoms.

In the article, he explained, “But they may still answer ‘no’ to all of those questions, and their temperature may be normal, but they may still be infected though they’re not showing symptoms yet.”

The article also stated that coughing and sneezing aren’t the only ways dentists can come in contact with the virus from a patient.

“In dentistry, many of the procedures that we do require using a handpiece to drill a tooth, or an ultrasonic scaler to clean the teeth,” Panagakos said. “The water used can form an aerosol. If you aerosolize something, it’s going to end up in the air. You can just imagine what that means if a patient is carrying the virus.”

If you are scheduled to have a dentist appointment or may have a dental emergency, here are some extra precautions you could take to minimize exposure:

  • If it’s a cleaning or a checkup, it can be delayed another two weeks to a month.
  • If you’re having an actual dental emergency that involves pain, if you have swelling or if you have an apparent infection in your mouth, contact your dental provider right away and find out how they’re managing those emergency cases. Most offices may see you, or they may refer you to another location that’s seeing emergencies.
  • If it’s an absolute emergency but you’re also sick, call the office ahead of time to let them know you have an emergency and are also not feeling well.

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