Patients can visit hospitals or clinics with their dental emergencies without worry despite the coronavirus pandemic, a Turkish dentist has said, in efforts to quell fears and get people to stop postponing important health issues.
"Under the control of the Turkish Health Ministry, dental clinics and hospitals have taken advanced levels of measures against COVID-19," Lütfi Çiftçi, head physician at a dental hospital in Bursa, told Anadolu Agency (AA).
Çiftçi said they took measures against the virus such as taking temperatures of patients at the entrance, asking if they have any symptoms, hanging information brochures on walls and informing them to wear masks and use disinfectants regularly.
"Considering the measures taken in hospitals, patients could come to a dental examination without hesitation," he said, adding that infection risk is "out of the question" regarding measures for oral and dental health.
Concerns about the risk of transmission of COVID-19 during a dental visit are understandable, but there have been no confirmed cases of transmission in a dental office so far, he said.
"We accept patients through an appointment system ensuring a 20-minute break to disinfect the clinic and prevent crowds," he said. Çiftçi says the dentist themselves have more to worry about than the patients.
"Dentists carry the highest risk of being infected as they are exposed to aerosol droplets during the examination. If one patient has COVID-19, there is a risk of spreading the virus to the dentist and the room," he said, highlighting the importance of personal protective equipment (PPE).
A number of countries have faced problems in supplying protective equipment, including masks and personal protective equipment (PPE), but Çiftçi said Turkey successfully navigated that process.
"The government decided to employ dentists in pandemic hospitals to help filiation and PCR test teams when COVID-19 infection was high in the beginning. Some of our dentists and nurses are still working in the field," he said.
Difficulties posed by pandemic
Dentist Esma Çakır, who works at a private oral and dental health clinic in Ankara, said dentistry is an essential health care service and patients should not skip their examinations.
She said dentists went through a difficult process during the early days of the pandemic which affected them both physically and psychologically.
"I was afraid of infecting my baby boy and my family with the virus, but I took all the necessary measures to protect me and my family," she said. She stressed the importance of protecting the health of others working at the clinic and said staff used air disinfection systems to prevent the spread of the virus and regularly sterilized all equipment.
"We only accepted urgent cases at first and only performed root canal treatment and tooth extraction," Çakır said, but added as the number of patients decreased, the clinic's revenue also significantly dropped.
Derya Aygün wanted to pay a visit to her dentist to get her teeth whitened and waited until early July.
"They obeyed social distancing rules at the clinic. They do not accept friends or relatives of patients to accompany them," she stressed.
Another patient, Mehmet Enes Sirkeci said he visited a clinic to have a dental X-ray as part of his monthslong implant process.
Sirkeci said he has been receiving implant treatment for more than a year and continued his routine controls during the pandemic.