November 21, 2020

As we continue to recognize the importance of regular dental check-ups, we wonder if there is anything different this year?

Merle Nunemaker, DDS

I mean, everything is “different” these days as we deal with the pandemic, but delaying your dental office visit for regular hygiene appointments need not be something different to do. The correlation between good oral health and overall health is undeniable, and now more than ever we need to be aware of our well-being.

But how safe is that visit – I mean, someone right in my face and I can’t obviously have a mask on while having my teeth cleaned? As in any part of your personal healthcare, you need to know about all facets of your treatment and never be hesitant to ask questions. However, all of our local dental offices are aware of CDC guidelines, OSHA regulations, and recommendations from the American and Missouri Dental Associations. My offices have adhered to strict protocols for years, and have now added even more layers of protection for our patients and staffs. Keeping our offices sanitized and sterilized is not something new; everyone’s safety has always been a top priority.

In a 9/18/20 interview with ADA President Dr. Chad Gehani, Insider Magazine confirms that, “Yes, it’s safe to go to the dentist…there has been no evidence of coronavirus transmission in dental offices since many reopened in May.” Safety guidelines include things such as having patients call the office when they arrive for appointments so we can determine they can enter and be directly seated in an operatory as our waiting rooms really aren’t for waiting in right now. Proper distancing, use of electronic air cleaners, the list goes on. The main message is yes, it’s safe.

In Lee’s Summit, there is one big reason that it’s particularly important to visit your dental professionals on a regular basis. We have very limited fluoride in our water, so low that it can be classified as “non-fluoridated”. The bulk of our water comes from the Independence water district and fluoride is not added, so only the low level of naturally occurring fluoride is present. We do receive optimally fluoridated water from Kansas City, but only when the demand is high, like in some summer months, and we need an additional source. Please ask your dental office if they feel you should have supplemental fluoride which they can provide. It is not just for kids, but all of us.

Author Dr. Merle Nunemaker, a past president of the Missouri Dental Association, is in private practice in Lee’s Summit with Jungmeyer & Suresh Dental Enterprises. He also serves as a volunteer member of Lee’s Summit’s Health Education Advisory Board, a Mayor-appointed, volunteer board that promotes and advocates community health by assessing health issues, educating the public and government agencies, developing plans to address health issues, encouraging partnerships and evaluating the outcomes.