Wednesday, June 10, 2020

What About That Overdue Dental/Medical Appointment: Is it Safe?

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

Like some of you I'll bet, I've missed a dental cleaning or other regularly scheduled appointments.
After having two appointments cancelled and being asked to stay in place for several weeks, I've not been actively rescheduling either.

I'm surprised by my wariness about going to the clinic! I finally scheduled the injection my Doc has been urging me to get, found a way to get there and know the procedure once I'm there. Still...a worry or two.

Is it safe to get check-ups and other routine procedures, e.g., an injection that your Doc says you should get monthly? "I'm not exactly happy you (me that is) aren't doing this," she says. "It is not life-threatening that you aren't but there is a good medical reason to get back on this preventative care routine schedule again."

Alan Yu of NPR discussed some of the considerations in a recent report. He includes recommendations from a couple of sources, one of which, I include below. Physicians are concerned about the growing number of people not coming in for what they consider as routine problems but could be symptoms of more serious problems (cancer, heart disease), check-ups (mammograms, colonoscopies, regular immunizations--especially for children).

Dentistry, in particular, receives considerable attention and the experts say that its practice will be different in future with much more attention paid to what we have come to think of as simple, standard, safe procedures--routine cleaning and the simplicity of filling a cavity, a procedure that has changed considerably since I was a kid. I don't look forward to going to the dentist but it is now much less painful and quick than in those days of my yesteryear--not the golden age of dentistry! The drills and the fillings are so much better, too.

Yu includes a list of specific precautions from two epidemiologists, Dr. Neal Goldstein (Drexel University) and Dr. Aimee Palumbo (Temple University) "that concerned patients can ask medical and dental staff about when scheduling appointments." Here they are:

  • Do the staff and patients wear masks at all times?
  • Do the staff have enough masks and protective equipment?
  • Will there be a limit on how many people can be in a waiting room?
  • Are the staff being tested for COVID-19?
  • How often are staff cleaning the waiting rooms and offices?
  • If you don't drive, can you take public transit while keeping your distance from other people and washing your hands before and afterward?

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