The impact of neglecting dental procedures and hygiene care due to the first COVID-19 shutdown - A Letter to the PA State Legislation

The impact of neglecting dental procedures and hygiene care due to the first COVID-19 shutdown



The impact of neglecting dental procedures and hygiene care due to the first COVID-19 shutdown - A Letter to the PA State Legislation

A Letter to the PA State Legislation

Dear Mr./Mrs. Legislator,

To begin, we want to offer our sincere gratitude for the work you are doing in our industry to keep our patients safe. We appreciate the tireless efforts you continue to put forth to support the health of our community. To that end, we are requesting on behalf of the Verber Dental Group that you consider, with all the capacities available to you, advocating against any interruption of services.  Specifically, with dental procedures of emergency, restorative, and hygiene care inclusive.  We have seen firsthand the negative impacts of neglecting dental procedures and hygiene care due to the first COVID-19 shutdown.  Another shutdown will further exacerbate long-term health concerns for our patients that could otherwise be avoided with non-interruption of dental services. 

First, it should be noted that we have not had a single patient, doctor, or employee test positive for COVID-19 within all six of our dental practice locations due to a work-related exposure. This is a direct result of implementing all protocols issued by the DOH, CDC, OSHA, and ADA. We have procured and trained our teams on proper utilization of PPE and adjunctive equipment to ensure the highest quality of preventative measures for everyone’s protection.  Additionally, implementing strict screening processes for both employees and patients, social distancing, and reduced volume within our offices has been impactful.  With more than 120 employees and thousands of patients, this was no small feat and taken with the highest level of reverence. 

Secondly, we wanted to research the impacts of missed hygiene appointments as it relates to the health of our patient base.  What we found was alarming.  There were both physical and mental health impacts outside of oral wellness related to the overall systemic inflammatory chain process.  Per the American Dental Association in a recent publication, “Twice yearly trips to the dentist can do more than keep your teeth healthy. It may decrease the risk of pneumonia by decreasing bacteria in the mouth.”  To further the previous point, “Research found that people who never get dental check-ups had an 86% greater risk of pneumonia than those who visit the dentist twice a year.” During this COVID-19 Pandemic, lung health is of the highest priority and oral health appears to be a direct contributor on that pathway.

Perhaps more shocking were the negative mental health impacts observed during the initial shutdown. Continuing dental care and routine hygiene appointments, in one of the safest environments for Pennsylvanians, has positive impacts outside of just oral health. Psychology Today in a February 2019 edition titled “Can My Dentist Cure Depression” noted that, “Gum disease is a potent source of inflammation which can trigger depression and mental health disturbances. It is now clear that inflammation can play a direct role in the development of mental illness.”  During a time when we all need to be cognizant of our health, this research showed that inflammation-reducing hygiene procedures can work to prevent depression and other mental health issues that may have otherwise gone untreated.  We feel strongly that our commitment to the health and safety of our patients has positive impacts beyond oral health into other overall physical and mental health areas.

All of that to say, necessary dental care and hygiene appointments, affords great opportunity to proactively help patients throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic.  We urge you to advocate on our behalf for non-interruption of dental service to keep citizens overall health strong.

With Deepest Regards,

Becky Fox, DMD & Mr. Brandon Rogers, Chief Financial Officer

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