You may have patients cancelling their hygiene appointments due to fear of being infected by COVID-19. That’s understandable but, as every dentist knows, ill-advised.
Now, there’s yet another reason – one that’s strongly compelling – for dental patients to have their regular cleanings and exams.
As reported on October 8th by Dental Tribune, untreated periodontal disease can be a risk factor for severe respiratory complications during COVID-19 infection.
Elevated levels of pro-inflammatory interleukin-6 (IL-6) – which frequently happens in periodontal disease – can contribute to respiratory problems during SARS-CoV-2 infection and increase the need for ventilation.
Given this connection, your patients with recurrent periodontitis are a high-risk population. But anyone with active periodontal disease may be at heightened risk.
Help Them Lower Their IL-6 Levels
You undoubtedly have many patients in your practice with pre-existing COVID-19 risk factors – heart disease, diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disorders, or simply age.
By communicating the enhanced likelihood of developing severe respiratory complications, and pointing out that they can reduce that risk by having their cleaning and exam – and, if necessary, periodontal treatment – you’re providing them with control over this particular risk factor.
It’s important to emphasize that good oral hygiene won’t necessarily reduce their chances of contracting the coronavirus; there’s no evidence to assert that. But you should also emphasize that, in addition to all the preventive measures they can take, ensuring their oral health reduces their chance of severe coronavirus disease.
Take A Multi-Channel Approach
Use all the communication channels at your command – email, text, social media, your website, even phone recalls – to reach as many of your patients as you can. Be sure to emphasize to patients who refuse periodontal treatment that this is one area of life they can control during these uncertain times.
You’re committed to the overall wellbeing of your patients. Let them know that you and your team are also committed to helping them avoid potentially serious health issues that they literally won’t see coming.
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