TORONTO — Canadians are being advised to take extra care in maintaining their oral hygiene amid the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent a surge in serious oral health problems once dental offices reopen.
In an interview with CTV News Channel on Sunday, the president of the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) said Canadians should try to keep their mouths healthy during this time as they find themselves eating more snacks while staying at home.
“With respect to dental care, obviously this is a time where there’s more attention required to the basics like brushing or flossing more often because we probably are snacking and eating a lot more throughout the day than we may have been accustomed to,” Dr. Kim Hansen said.
Hansen said he expects to see a rise in appointments to deal with serious oral health issues once dental offices reopen due in part to increased snacking, and because closures have extended the time between regular checkups and cleanings.
“The forced closure of dental offices has changed the way dentistry has been delivered to people,” Hansen said. “We however are still open to see dental emergencies and to give advice over the phone through video means. Our main objective obviously is to keep dental emergencies out of the ER. We want to keep environments safer for everyone.”
Hansen said Canadians should phone their dentists immediately if they have concerns about their oral health instead of going to a hospital.
“The big piece of advice is phone your dentist then they’ll have those answers because they’ll know your dental care a lot more intimately than a stranger would,” Hansen said. “We’re all required that we get back to our patients… So reach out to your dentist.”
Hansen said dental offices “don’t have much information to fall back on historical[ly]” in how to proceed during a virus outbreak.
He said dentists will be paying attention to what changes for practices in provinces that are considering reopening their economies and easing public health measures.
“There will be some provinces who will be going into their offices sooner than we will here in Ontario, so we’ll be looking to them for answers. We have a task force within the Ontario Dental Association working to get those answers for when that that day comes,” Hansen said.
“It will be a different environment when we all head back. And the main thing is we’re trying to get those answers to the questions that the public, that dentists have to keep everybody safe.”