Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has the entire world in panic mode. As of March 16, 2020, there are 169,387 confirmed cases of COVID-19; 6,513 deaths and 77,257 recoveries worldwide. In the U.S. there are 3,774 positive cases and 69 deaths. The CDC recommends canceling large events and limiting gatherings of 50 or more people. Many people have turned to hoarding food and supplies in order to stay quarantined within their homes for the next month as cities slowly close schools, gyms, restaurants, movie theaters and areas of social gatherings. In the time of social distancing, many people wonder if they should cancel their upcoming dental appointments.

What is Coronavirus Disease?

Coronaviruses are a respiratory illness that spread from person to person. Coronaviruses are large families of viruses that originate from animals and then spread to humans. Currently, the animal that caused COVID-19 is unknown. Past viruses such as MERS and SARS spread from camels and bats. COVID-19 is not truly understood yet.

Symptoms and Complications of COVID-19

The following symptoms may present themselves within 2 to 14 days after exposure to COVID-19

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Cough

As a result of contracting COVID-19, patients may experience the following complications:

  • Pneumonia in both lungs
  • Multi-organ failure
  • Death

How Does COVID-19 Spread?

The virus spreads when someone comes within 6 feet of contact as someone who is infected through respiratory droplets from sneezing or coughing. You can also contract COVID-19 by touching an object or surface that has the virus on it and then touching your nose, mouth or eyes.

To protect yourself from getting COVID-19, officials recommend taking the following actions:
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
  • When you’re unable to wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol

If you are sick, whether with COVID-19, the flu, or a cold, you can protect others by:

  • Staying home when you’re sick
  • Cover your sneeze or cough with a tissue that is then thrown way
  • Disinfect and clean objects and surfaces you tough
  • Avoid contact with others

Is it Safe to Visit the Dentist?

With all the panic going around, you might wonder if it’s safe to visit the dentist or any healthcare provider for that matter. Yes, it is still completely safe. As a healthcare provider, your dentist practices thorough sanitization before and after every patient visits. As of right now, COVID-19 hasn’t impacted the availability of dental care or the safety of visiting the dentist.

To protect your dentist and others from getting sick, if you feel unwell, don’t put others at risk. Stay home from your appointment and reschedule it for another time when you’re feeling better. If you believe you might have COVID-19, please contact your doctor.

You can stay up-to-date on all COVID-19 news on Live Science and on The New England Journal of Medicine.