The risk of delaying a dentist appointment for fear of contagion: "A bar is more dangerous"

The coronavirus pandemic, officially declared by the World Health Organization on March 11, has had a special incidence in the health sector, affected by a unprecedented care pressure and an almost total deprogramming of operations and treatments in all kinds of specialties.

After two months of confinement in which only emergencies have been practically attended, many professionals and institutions in the health field are now manifesting, through outreach initiatives, concern for the health of those patients that, in the context of the covid-19 crisis, have been forced to postpone their treatments or they have not gone to hospital centers despite presenting symptoms of some serious pathology.

Specialties like maxillofacial surgery, which deals with problems related to the anatomical structures of the face, skull, head and neck – in addition to complications in the oral cavity, jaws and teeth derived from dental treatments – is perhaps one of the medical areas that still raises the most fear among patients. The sensitive area in which its treatment is concentrated and the doctor-patient proximity that it requires are the main reasons that generate this certain insecurity.

However, this does not mean that there is no growing concern for such fundamental aspects like oral health. And it is that according to recent data corresponding to the month of May, one of the searches carried out by the Spaniards that has attracted attention and has become a trend on the Google platform has been: "dentists open."

Any tumor in the mouth caught on time can have a good prognosis

From the General Council of Dentists They have elaborated a complete protocol of action to guarantee security in the ‘new’ normality. From the professional body they recognize that "it is one of the professions with the closest contact with patients" and they are highly exposed to the coronavirus but they launch a message of tranquility remembering that HIV and hepatitis C marked a turning point in the offices and dentists are highly trained in infectious contagious diseases. This is confirmed by a survey by the CGD itself, which states that only 2% of these professionals would have been infected during this pandemic, due to the high safety standards that the sector handles.

Both dentists and maxillofacial specialists therefore insist that strict protocols implanted make it possible to guarantee care with the total security of not contracting or transmitting the disease.

In this sense, Enrique Vert, maxillofacial surgeon of Policlínica Nuestra Señora del Rosario, warns El Confidencial of the risk of delaying consultations and treatments for fear of going to health centers for "two main reasons".

Avoid serious infections

"The first of these would be the possibility that it would lead to a serious infection. Sometimes a small infection continues to progress and can lead to abscesses, which in some cases require ehe patient is admitted to the ICU"

One of the diseases that can complicate and become fatal – if not treated in due time – is Ludwig's angina. Also called diffuse hyper septic and gangrenous phlegm of the floor of the mouth, it is a severe infection of dental origin, in which pus seriously invades the face, neck, airways and lungs.

Reduces the risk of tumors

The second reason the surgeon points to are tumors: “The ideal is always to make a early diagnostic. Any tumor in the mouth caught on time can have a good prognosis, but if months go by the prognosis worsens a lot ”.

"Any sore or small tumor in the mouth that persists for three weeks must be biopsied", Add.

Security measures in the centers

Regarding prevention during outpatient treatments, the specialist emphasizes that “in waiting rooms the safety distance is kept and masks are used ”.

Only the unaccompanied patient enters the treatment areas and “between patient and patient surfaces are disinfected that may have been contaminated by talking or by the aerosols generated by dental turbines ”, explains the specialist. In addition, sterile autoclave or disposable instruments are used.

But he clarifies that "zero risk does not exist". "Yes, there is a moment when the patient has to be open-mouthed, but the covid-19 test is done" and the measures described above are taken. In addition to these it is added that they prevent two patients from coinciding without a mask: "Going to a bar can be more dangerous because there are two people without a mask talking facing each other. "