While many dentists are re-opening their clinics with the announcement of Unlock 1.0, treatment is limited only to simple procedures that require minimal use of instruments. More severe ones like root canal treatment are being held in abeyance.
“There are strict directives from the Government,” says Dr Pankaj Gangil, a dentist based in Mayur Vihar. During the lockdown, Gangil, like others in his fraternity, was only giving tele-consultation and video-consultation.
Dental health, though neglected by most people, is vital to overall health. “Maintaining good oral health should be on priority as it affects our physical as well as mental health,” says Dr Tanvir Singh, Director, Dentem.
“Toothaches can be very debilitating. Since the time we opened, we are getting patients with pains, swelling in gums, dislodged bridge or front tooth fracture. While the government has not categorised these under urgent procedures, resolving these issues is crucial for the patient. and cannot be treated with medicines alone,” says Dr Gangil.
“As it is people are not much bothered about their dental health, and now corona has pushed them further away from us,” says Dr Ranjeet Preenjal. But neglecting oral health can have a serious impact on the overall health. “You should not postpone or manage your tooth conditions by taking pain killers. It is difficult to salvage the tooth once infection spreads. The only option left then is extraction,” says Dr Preenjal.
The cost factor
While dentists are hit hard due to government guidelines, oral patients are at the receiving end. For not only is the full treatment not available, the costs have also escalated.Dental procedures are risky as these produce aerosols and droplets mixed with patient’s saliva, and COVID-19 transmission can be quick. Hence, the need for extra precaution, which ups the costs.
The government’s guidelines include thermal screening and measurement of oxygen saturation in the body of the patient and mouth wash with dilute hydrogen peroxide solution. After the patient leaves, a thorough cleaning and sanitisation should be done of the place, equipment and all the surfaces that were touched. The dental surgeon should wear goggles, face mask and surgical gown during any surgical procedures.
“In future, when we begin with Root Canal Treatment, proper isolation will have to be done by using ‘rubber dam’ to isolate patient’s oral cavity from the external environment. This will escalate the cost further,” says Dr Gangil.
Easy tips for dental care
Saline water: Gargles with lukewarm saline water help reduce the pain
Clove oil: “Clove has pain-relieving and antibacterial properties. Put two drops on a cotton wool ball and set it on the affected tooth,” says Dr Singh.
Ice pack: Place an ice pack or some ice wrapped in a cloth over an affected tooth.
Tea: “Peppermint tea soothes toothache quickly because it has a good numbing effect. A slight warm and wet tea bag on the affected area also does wonders,” says Dr Singh.