Dentists Share Why Keeping Up With Your Oral Health Is Crucial During COVID-19

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This past year, many of us have struggled with gauging the risk factor of doing normal, routine things like getting checkups at the doctor’s office. When it comes to staying on top of your oral health, it is recommended that you see your dentist every six months. However, even in normal times, going to the dentist’s office every year can be a scary ordeal for some.

The official medical term for this common, anxious feeling is Dentophobia. Facing the realization that we should all take a trip to our dentist’s office during the pandemic can amplify the fear, but it is crucial to contact your dentist to find out the safety procedures they have in place, which may give you some peace of mind. 

We reached out to three Hoboken dentists to get their take on the importance of scheduling a visit, even during COVID-19 times

oral health dentist covid 19

When thinking about your oral hygiene, “one of the things that is super important to remember is that oral hygiene is something that does tie into systemic care, and ignoring things like regular visits can lead to consequences like swelling, eventual periodontal disease, and negative effects in every other aspect of the system,” said Dr. Bari Posner of Dental Associates of Hoboken, located at 233 Washington Street. 

She shared that oral health and COVID-19 may be actually more linked than we thought. 

“What we are finding, and what our research and literature is showing is a link between uncontrolled periodontal disease, like gingivitis and periodontitis, and a more negative outcome of COVID,” said Dr. Posner. “Our bodies can fight one thing well at a time. When we start putting comorbidities, like a chronic infection, oral or otherwise, our bodies can’t necessarily fight a more aggressive, acute infection.”

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According to Dr. Posner, it isn’t enough to simply get our checkups every year if we want to protect our overall health. There’s more that we can do in between our dentist appointments, and now more than ever, it’s important to take strides toward living a healthier lifestyle —  in every aspect.

“The link between those who are affected most severely by the novel Coronavirus could have to do with their risk factors,” said Dr. Marian Farag of Farag Dentistry, located at 1006 Washington Street. “People who smoke/vape, have poor diets, have cardiovascular disease or diabetes, or are otherwise immunocompromised, are more susceptible to having dental caries and periodontal disease. Likewise, people who have some of these same risk factors commonly exhibit more complications when infected with COVID-19.” 

Dr. Radhika Kapoor of Hoboken Smile Specialists had a similar view. “Patients who have poorly managed oral health, often are linked to poorly managed heart disease, diabetes, poor wound healing, higher risk of infection in other parts of the body,” she shared with Hoboken Girl.

Dr. Kapoor, whose practice is located at 33-41 Newark Street, also emphasizes the importance of having a thorough dental exam, as well as deep cleaning with a hygienist.  

“Everyone should be seeing a dentist regularly, every six months, to maintain oral health and keep bacterial levels down,” said Dr. Kapoor. She also noted that oral health doesn’t just include checkups.

“Staying hydrated, having a well-balanced diet low in processed carbohydrates and acidic foods, practicing good oral hygiene {brushing two times a day/flossing}” are also on her list.

It can also be beneficial to incorporate some antioxidants, like Green tea, into your diet as well, which may not only help you have better breath {always a plus!} but can also possibly aid in cancer prevention,” said Dr. Posner. “Green tea has so many benefits because it’s antioxidant; we see the benefits in our entire bodies —  neurological, cardiovascular, and respiratory. It can decrease the number of bacteria in the mouth, and if it’s decreasing the bacteria, it decreases bad breath and cavities. I’ve even seen some references to it decreasing the likelihood of oral cancers.”

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Doctors are also finding that higher levels of oral bacteria in patients can eventually lead to a slew of health issues down the line, and can be especially dangerous for those who may come in contact with COVID-19, or are already infected.

“There is presence of high numbers of oral bacteria like Porphyromonas gingivalis, Fusobacterium nucleatum, and Prevotella intermedia in a dental patient with periodontal {gum} disease,” said Dr. Farag. “It is likely that these bacteria could be aspirated, and could potentially lead to a lung infection, requiring COVID patients to need ventilation.”

Many systemic diseases, even like COVID-19, can present in the mouth first,” said Dr. Kapoor. “Specifically in COVID-19 patients, there is an increased risk of aspiration of fluids from the mouth, increasing a load of microbes into the lungs. Gum disease has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. These are the same pre-existing conditions that are turning out to have worse outcomes with respect to COVID-19.”

All three dentists we spoke to are in agreement that focusing on the basics of oral health is essential in potentially avoiding further complications when it comes to the COVID-19, and many other health issues, too. 

“I think that the more you brush your teeth and floss, the better off you are just in general,” said Dr. Posner. “There is a huge relationship between all sorts of systemic health issues and uncontrolled oral issues. When the mouth bacteria is uncontrolled, our bodies are negatively affected. Coming in for regular care is super important because while there is not a problem that is visible or noticeable, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a problem that exists. It’s important that people are coming in for those regular exams and their regular cleanings to help keep that bacterial load low and to help prevent things that are not huge problems yet from becoming huge problems.” 

The bottom line is: when it comes to our dental checkups during the ongoing pandemic, the benefits of scheduling a visit seem to outweigh the risks.

The dental offices mentioned above have safety protocols in place {requiring masks upon entry, taking temperature checks, all staff wearing enhanced personal protective equipment, plexiglass dividers, etc.} for the protection of their patients. 

For more information on COVID-19 and safety procedures in New Jersey, visit here.

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Yarleen is a lovable Leo and a proud Jersey girl with Cuban roots. She’s an actor and freelance writer with an affinity for poetry, astrology, and fried plantains. Born in Jersey City and raised in West New York, where she currently resides, this Hudson county native can usually be found with an Americano in hand, or any caffeinated beverage really. A St. Peter’s University alum with a degree in Communication and Media Culture, Yarleen was News Editor of her college newspaper, while also reporting for the Hudson Reporter and The Jersey Journal. When she’s not on stage, enjoying a new hobby {currently rollerblading}, or typing away at her laptop, you can catch her running along the waterfront listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers or exploring NYC galleries.