The Nevada Dental Association is reminding Nevadans that it is indeed safe to visit their dentist.
A year ago, dentists, dental hygienists and dental office staff were considered to be at increased risk for contracting COVID-19. But today, newly released data demonstrates the profession’s ability to safely provide patients with the essential care they need while mitigating risk for staff and patients.
A study published in the February 2021 issue of the Journal of Dental Hygiene finds that 3.1% of dental hygienists nationwide have had COVID-19, based on data collected since last October. The report adds this figure aligns with the cumulative prevalence rate of COVID-19 among dentists and is far below that of other U.S. health professionals.
“This is encouraging news and shows how people in our profession have done an admirable job of protecting dentists, hygienists, dental office staff and our patients during and before this pandemic. We want Nevadans to know how serious we are about protecting our staff and patients and want them to know it’s safe to go back to their dentists,” said NDA President Dr. Mark Funke, DDS, a longtime dentist based in Carson City. “I want patients to realize that it has always been safe, and it will continue to be safe. Dental offices follow high levels of infection control protocols. We did before COVID-19, we do during COVID-19, and we will continue to do so after COVID-19.”
Patients seem to be getting the message, with a national survey showing consumer confidence in returning to the dentist hitting a new high. According to the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute’s COVID-19 economic impact tracking poll conducted the week of Feb. 15, 90% of patients reported that they have either returned or are ready to return to visiting their dentist.
The poll showed patient volume nationwide has returned to an average of 81% of pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, staffing levels in dental offices was at 99% of pre-pandemic levels.
The same poll shows dentists are also reporting an increase in stress-related oral health conditions among patients since the onset of the pandemic. More than 70% of dentists surveyed saw an increase in patients experiencing teeth grinding and clenching, conditions often associated with stress – up from just under 60% in the fall.
More specifically, 71% of dentists surveyed reported an increase in the prevalence of teeth grinding and clenching; 63% for chipped teeth; 63% for cracked teeth; and 62% for temporomandibular joint disorder symptoms, which includes headaches and jaw pain.
About the Nevada Dental Association
The Nevada Dental Association is the voice and advocate for oral health care in Nevada. It promotes the highest standards of care for the public and inspires members to pursue professional excellence and personal fulfillment through education, leadership and communication. It preserves the integrity of the dental profession, strengthens the doctor-patient relationship and promotes the Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct of the American Dental Association. Visit www.NVDA.org.