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Dentists face highest risk but focus energy on keeping patients safe during the pandemic

Martin Dental in Altoona
Martin Dental in Altoona(weau)
Published: Dec. 16, 2020 at 5:10 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The World Economic Forum created a list of jobs with the highest COVID-19 risk. It isn’t a surprise nurses, doctors, and patient care assistants rank high on the list. But of the top four most risky occupations, three are medical professionals, who work in your mouth.

Due to their physical proximity and contact with others, dentists, and dental hygienists face high risk of contracting COVID-19 at work. However, Dr. Tony Martin from Martin Dental in Altoona is confident in their safety procedures.

“In my opinion going to the dentist now is safer than it’s ever been,” Martin said.

He attributes that to their heightened attention to sanitation, PPE, and screening process.

“Not only do we have the aerosol containment systems implemented but we are wearing N95 masks we also double mask with a surgical mask over top of it. We have surgical gowns which we change after every patient we have eye wear, face shields, pretty much anything you could possibly throw at it.”

Despite the increase in safety precautions, Dr. Luke Viall says it’s clear some patients are avoiding the dental chair.

“With everything that’s going on everyone’s a little concerned about what it is going to take for them to contact the virus so obviously when they think oh i’m going somewhere that involves my mouth it makes them a little hesitant,” Viall said.

Regardless, both dentists agree, getting in for your regular cleaning and check up can be even more crucial now.

“Due to people staying at home, due to the stresses that have come up … when people are stressed they tend to grind more they might have developed habits they might have not had before whether it’s snacking or nail biting,” says Viall.

“People postponing needed dental care as a result of a fear factor of going to the dentist has exacerbated conditions for the worst. Some people are getting decay, cracked teeth from clenching because they’re stressed out,” Martin adds.

If you are feeling nervous to see your dentist, those at Martin Dental recommend giving your dentist’s office a call and having a conversation about what measures they are taking to ensure your safety.

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