How Do I Avoid COVID-19?
As there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2, preventing being exposed to the virus is the only protection currently available.
How does the COVID-19 virus spread?
Transmission of the virus tends to happen from person to person. This ordinarily occurs through respiratory droplets from speaking, coughing, or sneezing while in close contact (within 6′) of other people. These drops can come into the body by way of the mouth, eyes, or nose, and may also cause infection when inhaled directly into the lungs.
Please keep in mind that people do not have to be displaying symptoms in order to be contagious.
COVID-19 can also be caught by touching surfaces where respiratory droplets have landed.
How can I protect myself from COVID-19?
The best ways to keep yourself safe from COVID-19 are as follows:
- Practice social distancing. Be sure to maintain a distance of six feet from other people while in public spaces.
- You should wash your hands frequently, and make sure you are using the correct hand-washing technique.
- If you have no access to soap, use hand sanitizer consisting of at least sixty percent alcohol.
- Try not to touch your mouth, nose, or eyes without having washed your hands prior.
- You should wear a mask when out in public.
- Always cover your mouth in the event that you cough or sneeze.
- Surfaces of your home should be disinfected and cleaned regularly.
Do I have COVID-19?
COVID-19 symptoms can be mild or severe. If you think you might have symptoms, check your temperature. COVID-19 symptoms consist of:
- Difficulty breathing
- Body aches and/or muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Loss of taste or smell
- Vomiting and/or nausea
- Runny nose/congestion
What people are most at risk?
While COVID-19 may result in severe complications for anyone, those who are in the most danger are people who are over 65 years old as well as people who have any preexisting medical conditions, including the following:
- Lung disease or asthma
- People who have immunodeficiencies
- Serious heart conditions
- Liver disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- People who are severely overweight
What should I do if I think I’ve caught the virus?
The CDC provides a website with recommended guidelines to follow and a self-checker for those who think they may have COVID-19.
How Does Oral Health Affect COVID-19?
During the COVID-19 situation, a lot of people are making an effort to remain home as much as they can and are avoiding any appointments they think might not be necessary. But is it a good idea to postpone visits to the dentist because of the risk of catching COVID-19?
It turns out that the opposite may, in fact, be true, according to a paper published in the British Dental Journal.
Dentists have known for a long while about the links between the health of the mouth and the wellbeing of the body.
Victoria Sampson’s paper looks into how oral bacteria may be related to many of COVID-19’s more serious complications.
What complications are connected with COVID-19?
The most frequent serious complications of COVID-19 are:
- Blood clots
- Septic shock
- ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome)
The complications of COVID-19 are actually more likely to cause death than the COVID-19 virus. COVID-19 is a virus, but these complications are due to bacterial infection. Studies into cases of COVID-19 are finding that 80% of ICU patients are shown to have elevated levels of dangerous bacteria, requiring treatment with antibiotics. Where the severity of COVID-19 infections is concerned, this indicates that bacteria play a big part.
In what ways is the mouth linked to complications of COVID-19?
Oral bacteria have a relatively good chance of making their way to the respiratory tract. A lot of the same kinds of bacteria in periodontitis can worsen or cause illnesses such as sepsis or pneumonia.
This connection is where the need for good oral hygiene comes in. The movement of harmful bacteria between the mouth and lungs can be reduced by taking care of your mouth. There studies that have discovered that improved oral health can lower the risk of ventilator-associated pneumonia in patients in the ICU and help prevent bacterial superinfection.
Don’t put off maintaining your oral health!
While you may have reservations about visiting your dentist during COVID-19, this is the time to make sure you have the best oral health possible. Good oral health can lessen your risk of COVID-19-related complications and is good for the health of your body.
If you have a dental concern you would like looked into, or are overdue for an exam, contact us to schedule your next appointment at Milford Dental Excellence.
Significantly Greater Risk of Death With COVID-19 and Gum Disease
The link between the health of the mouth and the health of the rest of the body should not be disregarded. Many major relationships have been uncovered between oral conditions and diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Respiratory problems can be affected by the bacteria found in the mouth as well.
In Germany, a study was undertaken that followed patients who had been hospitalized with COVID-19. The researchers found that patients with gum disease (periodontitis) had a substantially higher chance of dying from respiratory failure than those without gum disease.
This respiratory condition is likely caused by interleukin (IL-6), a harmful protein produced by periodontitis. IL-6 travels from the gum tissue down into the lungs, causing severe respiratory ailments.
Founder of the UCLA Dental Research Journal, Shervin Molayem, DDS, says: “Gum disease has been linked to other breathing ailments, including pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, so we weren’t surprised to find a link to respiratory problems with COVID-19.”
Molayem continued with, “what shocked us was the discovery of the protein’s devastating, life-threatening impact on patients once they’re hospitalized. One tiny, inflammatory protein robbed them of their ability to breathe.”
The California Dental Association has released The Mouth-COVID Connection where you can learn more about these findings.
Now, more than ever, having a healthy mouth is essential. Be certain you have your six-month dental exam with Milford Dental Excellence scheduled and get in touch with us if you spot any of the symptoms of gum disease.
ADA Finds That Less Than 1% of Dentists Have Tested Positive for COVID
Patients concerned about visiting the dentist during the pandemic may find some reassurance in learning that the ADA has found that fewer than 1% of dentists have tested positive for COVID-19.
In the first large-scale collection of infection rates and infection control practices in the US, the ADA Science and Research Institute and Health Policy Institute in Chicago found that the methods recommended by the CDC and the ADA to keep patients and dental teams safe are working.
This data was collected from every state in the USA as well as Puerto Rico, and the ongoing survey is now working with the American Dental Hygienists Association to include dental hygienists in future updates.
In addition to ADA and CDC recommendations, most dental offices are going above and beyond when it comes to PPE, screening procedures, sterilization, and minimizing aerosols. Thanks to this dedication to safety, the ADA states that the rate of infection for dentists are far below those for other medical professionals.
The vice president of the ADA Health Policy Institute, Marko Vujicic, Ph.D., stated: “The profession has taken this issue extremely seriously, and it shows. We will continue to track the rate of COVID-19 among dentists and other facets of the pandemic affecting dentistry so it can help inform the dental profession and other industries as well.”
Preventing the spread of COVID-19 is a concern all of us share, but, fortunately, with the safety protocols currently in place, patients should feel safer at dental visits than most other activities they may take during the pandemic.
Are COVID-19 Lockdowns Leading to More Orofacial Pain?
The pandemic has resulted in a stressful time for everyone in the world, and, for many people, this stress can result in orofacial pain.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine took a look at patients in two countries and examined how the stress of COVID-19 lockdowns may have caused an increase in jaw-clenching, teeth-grinding, and orofacial pain.
Some of the findings from the study by the University of Wroclaw and Tel Aviv University were:
- 12% increase in orofacial pain symptoms
- 15% increase in jaw-clenching
- 26% increase in teeth grinding
- For those who were already suffering from orofacial pain, there was a 15% increase in severity
- Women were more affected by these increases than men
- Patients in the age range of 35-55 were the most affected
Whether due to concerns over the virus, financial issues, isolation during quarantine, or other situations resulting from the lockdowns, it’s evident that problems such as bruxism (teeth grinding) and temporomandibular disorders are increasing during these stressful times.
For those suffering from these issues—including head, neck, and jaw pain, tension headaches, earaches, tooth sensitivity in the absence of a dental problem—help is available. Depending on the specific nature of the problem, these can be relieved with night guards, bite splints, or bite adjustments.
If you believe you are one of the people suffering from pain as a result of this type of stress, get in touch with our office to take your first step toward finding relief.
COVID-19 and Other Outbreaks
As of November of 2020, there have been more than 56 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide. While 39 million of those have recovered, the virus has claimed the lives of over 1.3 million people, with many cases still active.
While an outbreak of this size and severity is a new experience for most of us, it is hardly unique. Many such outbreaks have happened throughout history, and without the benefit of modern medicine, they have resulted in far higher death tolls than COVID-19.
To put it in perspective, here are some of the outbreaks that past generations have gone through.
There are records of what is believed to have been Smallpox as far back as 300 BC in ancient Egypt. The disease is believed to have killed three out of every ten people who contracted it, and it has persisted all the way to the modern era. It wasn’t until 1980 that vaccination efforts managed to eradicate the virus worldwide.
Known as the Black Death, the Bubonic plague first appeared in Europe and Asia in the mid-1330s and continued on until the early 1350s. The US had an epidemic in Los Angeles as recently as 1924. While antibiotics are available to treat the disease when caught early, the disease is still present, with around 1,000-3,000 cases annually around the world. The bubonic plague is believed to have killed more than 20 million people in Europe alone.
Believed to have been around since the 4th century BC, the first known Cholera pandemic began in India in 1817, with a second occurring in 1829. This second outbreak became a pandemic, spreading through Europe, and North America. There were multiple Cholera pandemics between the years of 1852 and 1923, and outbreaks continue even today, with approximately 2.9 million cases and 95,000 deaths annually across the world. The spread of Cholera can be prevented with proper sanitation and clean drinking water.
The Spanish Flu
Caused a type of H1N1 flu virus, the Spanish Flu was first identified in the US in 1918. The spread of the virus was likely expedited by troop movements during World War I, with the virus infecting 500 million people across the world. More than 50 million people died from this variant of the flu. The pandemic was eventually stopped through quarantine, disinfectants, and improvements in personal hygiene.
Spread by a parasite carried by mosquitos, malaria has likely existed since the Stone Age and is still around today. Most cases are now in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, as a program started by the World Health Organization in 1955 helped to eliminate the disease in many parts of the world. Currently, there are about 2,000 cases of malaria diagnosed in the world annually.
Fortunately for us, research on COVID-19 has progressed quickly and promising vaccines are already in development. In the meantime, practices like ours are using modern medical knowledge to help prevent the spread of infection through safety protocols that keep both our dental team and our patients safe.