Dental Distress due to COVID-19

BY: CLAIRE KIM

Crying in pain, my mother clutches her mouth as her gums throb intensely. Breathing heavily, my father whispers in agony as his deteriorating molars leave a sharp cooling effect in the back of his mouth. My parents are in pain. They need dental treatment immediately, but where can they go if all dentist offices are closed?

This predicament, however, is not limited to my parents. It resonates with thousands of other individuals across the country, especially elders, who have been denied access to dental care because of the health guidelines posed by COVID-19.

While hospitals have been able to run alongside the coronavirus due to the need for medical care for virus-infected patients, dentist offices are, unfortunately, not able to pass as “necessary” or “required” during the upsurge of the pandemic. Though it is a form of health care, specialized for the teeth, to prevent cross-contamination and the general spread of the virus, dentists have been advised to shut down for a couple of months. Health officials have stated that the excessive drilling and in-depth prying of the mouth can open several opportunities for virus-contaminated patients, or even dentists, to spread the virus to others easily. In fact, once such operations are completed, the chance of the virus spreading onto the dental equipment in the room is even higher in likelihood, which would be problematic as a round of patients exchange operations probably in the same room.

When people encounter sensitive teeth, life becomes difficult in several ways: consumption becomes challenging, brushing teeth becomes painful, and even drinking water can become excruciating. But, even beyond such minor discomforts, the necessity to pull out a tooth or fill in a cavity can cause unforeseen consequences on the suffering patient, so extreme that they can become life-threatening.

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