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'Your mouth is a link to your overall health:' Don't skip your dental appointments

Postponing routine dental work can cause you bigger health and wellness problems.

MAINE, USA — Throughout this pandemic, people have had to postpone or cancel a lot of activities, friends or family reunions, and vacation trips. To that list, medical appointments are also a popular thing to postpone or cancel this year. Canceling your routine oral hygiene appointments can be a big deal, dentists say some procedures or cleanings can't wait an entire year. 

"As with anything, whether it's your house or your car, maintenance is one of the most important things that you can do for anything, and your mouth is no exception," says Dr. Brad Rand, the general dentist at Rand Dentistry in Brewer.

Dr. Brad Rand closed his facility for almost two months at the height of the pandemic, now he reopened and is working on a backlog of patients.

"We had to schedule almost 2,000 patients, for cleanings and other things so we had quite a log of people that wanted to get back in," says Dr. Rand.

Even though it might take you a while to schedule a cleaning or a dental procedure, it's important people don't postpone their routine oral hygiene care.

"We found that patients that tend to postpone their treatment if they only come once every three or every five years...those patients by enlarge have many many more problems that are more costly and time-consuming and end up causing them infections, so the very best way to do dentistry is prevention," says Dr. Rand.

After a long wait, patient Debbie Jordan was able to get her cavity filled. 

"You gotta book two months out in advance and don't cancel whatever you do because it might be another two months before you get in again," says Jordan.

Other patients aren't as willing to come in right now. They're postponing getting routine dental care, which, Dr. Rand says, can lead to, "diabetes, high blood pressure, in addition, we do an oral cancer screening every time people come. There are people that if they do forgo their dental visit, they may be missing that one thing that we can catch for them."

"The data for Maine is that about 86 percent of patients feel comfortable coming back to the dentist right now," says Dr. Rand.  

According to American Dental Association data, there is a number of patients that are ready and want to come back, and there's another smaller group that will come back if they feel the dental office is doing enough to protect them. Lastly, there's an even smaller portion who is not ready to come back under any circumstance.

If you are hesitant about going back to your dentist, Dr. Rand recommends you call your dental office and ask what new protocols are put in place to keep you safe. 

"The vast majority of people really should be looking at making sure they are getting the correct procedures that they need because we do have all of the safety procedures in place," says Dr. Rand.

During this new normal, dentists are working hard to make sure patients have the safest environment.

"You have to take this liquid that bubbles up to clean your mouth and hopefully protect the employees that work here," says Jordan.

"We have some new filtration systems that we have in the office, we also have opted to use UVC light in our h-vac system that can also help sterilize the air," says Dr. Rand.

The MDA has two more courses planned as part of its Allied Dental Te... am series for 2020. Both courses will offered virtually. "Marijuana and Substance Use in the Dental Practice" will be offered on Friday, September 25, and "Hot Topics in Dental Assisting" will be offered on Friday, November 20.

Rand Dentistry is located in Brewer. His office is currently accepting a limited amount of new patients. Many dental offices throughout the state have reopened taking safety steps including full personal protective equipment for all staff, temperature checks at the door, and treating one patient at a time.