In many cases, booking a regular checkup or teeth cleaning in a normal world would have to be done months in advance. Local dentists say those routine appointments will likely be further delayed due to the shutdowns and continued safety protocol. And that means people need to be even more dedicated at this time to caring properly for their teeth at home.
Dr. Ralph Cianflone, a dentist in Northumberland, said he issued a letter to his patients, explaining that new procedural guidelines may cause six-month appointments to be “pushed back 7-8-9 months or longer.” He also explained that he understands if they need something done sooner and they need to go to another office.
“I have been blessed to treat patients for the past 31 years in a safe environment,” he wrote. “Due to the COVID-19 virus, I will continue to do my best to provide a safe and welcoming atmosphere you have known for so long.”
According to Alyssa Roush, Expanded Functions Dental Assistant at Susquehanna Valley Dental Group in Middleburg, “Unfortunately, I think patients will altogether miss ‘this time’ of the six-month cleaning. But we always try to go above and beyond to get our patients scheduled. There is a longer wait time, but I feel if we utilize the short-call cancellation list, we will be able to see the patients sooner.”
Dr. Paul Romano, dentist at Lewisburg Family Dental Practice, said he hopes to be allowed to start cleanings and routine care again. Two-thirds of his regular patients come for cleanings, he said.
In the meantime, these dental professionals encourage people to do what they can to take extra care of their teeth during this time, to avoid issues down the road.
“A lot of what we do in dentistry is preventative care,” Romano explained. The cleaning and checkups help to catch problems before they become big.
“You want to take care of decay before you even know it’s there,” he said. Because once you start having a toothache, or experiencing pain, the only fix could be a root canal or extraction.
Despite fears and delays surrounding COVID-19, Romano urges people to still make sure they are scheduling their checkups, and not to go a whole year without one.
The typical advice remains intact: “Continue to brush, floss and use mouth rinses,” Roush said.
Cianflone suggests using interdental brushes and rinsing with warm salt water if you are experiencing any sore areas. “There’s even a temporary bond, filling, that you can place in a tooth that is broken,” he said, “to alleviate any sharpness that can hurt the tongue or cheek.”
He also encourages some of his patients to rinse with hydrogen peroxide, which can kill viruses.