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Should I Skip My Periodontal Appointments During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

It is an unfortunate truth that COVID-19 has become the new normal in our every-day life, at least for now. Along with the worry surrounding the advent of this disease, a myriad of other concerns have arisen. Should I go to the grocery store? Is it safe to see my family? And importantly, should I skip my periodontal visit?

Incongruously, many people who feel comfortable heading to the grocery store, taking pets to the nearby park, or pumping gas at the nearby station make the conscious choice to skip their periodontal visits. These individuals cite coronavirus fears as the reason for this course of conduct. But is skipping periodontal appointments a prudent choice?

For an abundance of reasons, skipping out on periodontal appointments is one of the worst actions one can take for health’s sake during this pandemic. Here are some of the reasons why:

Worsening Periodontal Disease Leads to Tooth Loss
First, gum disease will not disappear on its own, no matter how much brushing and flossing you perform. Gum disease advances as bacteria destroys soft tissue and bone underneath the gum line. The bacteria must be eradicated to halt the disease progression. But it is impossible to annihilate this disease-producing bacteria without professional intervention, generally through periodontal therapy and regular periodontal maintenance appointments following initial treatment.

Without consistent removal of supragingival plaque and subgingival calculus (hardened plaque that accumulates both above and below the gum line), periodontal disease destroys bone, tissue, and other tooth-supporting structures. Eventually, the teeth will become loose and fall out. Preserving the teeth is a strong reason not to skip periodontal appointments.

Periodontal Disease can Wreck Systemic Health
Additionally, periodontal disease does not just harm the teeth and gums. It has also been found to contribute to, and increase the likelihood and severity of, dementia, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, erectile dysfunction, diabetes. premature labor, and infertility.

Notably, people suffering from periodontal disease also face an increased risk of severe respiratory illnesses, including respiratory failure. It is not a coincidence that respiratory inflammation and the resulting difficulty in breathing are also hallmarks of COVD-19. In fact, a recent study indicates the likelihood that periodontal disease is a risk factor for COVID-19. Individuals with periodontal issues who refuse treatment face a greater risk of respiratory problems associated with COVID-19 because untreated periodontitis exacerbates systemic inflammation.

Clearly, periodontal patients do more harm than good by skipping their appointments. This is especially true for patients with other systemic health issues, particularly respiratory illnesses. Avoiding periodontal treatment allows gum disease to progress unchecked. In turn, the progression of the disease wreaks havoc on the health of the entire body. Because gum disease intensifies systemic diseases and makes recovery difficult, untreated periodontitis is especially dangerous in light of a global pandemic that leads to respiratory failure.

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