The WHO recommends postponing nonessential dental visits for things like cleanings and cosmetic procedures.By Dr. Maria Simbra

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s time for Julie Hulbert’s annual dental check up.

“If they are taking the precautions the CDC requires, I think everybody should be safe,” says Hulbert.

The World Health Organization differs. Its recommendation — postponing nonessential dental visits for things like cleanings and cosmetic procedures.

The concern is the prolonged face-to-face time and aerosols — droplets from the mouth created during dental work. Droplets that could spread coronavirus.

“Absolutely, they certainly can, and I can see why there’s been concern about that,” Dr. Steven Crandall, of South Hills Dental Arts, said.

Dr. Crandall channeled his concern into beefing up precautions.

“Starting with our personal protective equipment, to having them wait in the parking lot until it’s time for them to come in. We have them rinse with Oracare, which kills all viral particles in their mouth,” he said.

He uses filters, anti-microbial sprays and an ozone machine.

“It does take us time to turn rooms around and get them ready for another person. This may be the new normal,” Dr. Crandall said.

Because of all of these efforts, he believes his office is safe.

“I think there are places in the world where the WHO was speaking to that need to change or decrease what they are doing, but the [American Dental Association] has made a statement that they strongly, they respectfully but strongly disagree with the WHO’s recommendation,” he said.

To Dr. Crandall, all dental care, even routine cleaning and check ups, is essential.

“The longer people put those treatments off, or those evaluations off, the more at risk they are for systemic problems, which quite frankly, is going to be a greater risk to them then possibly the chance of COVID,” he said.

But some of his patients have been nervous to come to the office.

“In some cases, they’ve waited too long, and now they’re losing teeth that they didn’t need to lose had they gotten things taken care of sooner. And I feel bad for them feeling afraid to come in,” he said.

Hulbert patiently waits her turn, and understands the delay comes from all the new steps to keep everyone safe.

“For everybody to have to stay away and not schedule their daily life, routine, I think is ridiculous,” Hulbert says.

The World Health Organization says people should hold off until there’s a reduction in transmission, from community spread down to only cluster cases.

Dr. Maria Simbra