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Dental health still important during pandemic, professional says

A recent study found more than half of its West Virginia respondents may be neglecting their dental health to comply with social distancing recommendations.

The study, conducted by dental publication Next Smile Dental in January, surveyed 4,500 American dental patients.  

Of those West Virginians who responded, 65% said they are minimizing their public appearances to reduce COVID-19 transmission rates – even if that means missing periodic dental health check-ups.

Dr. Dan Carrier, program manager and dentist at MCHD Dentistry in Morgantown, said MCHD Dentistry has had a few older, high-risk patients delay check-ups because of risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carrier said patients delaying or completely abstaining from dental health check-ups brings up several dental health concerns.

“Probably the biggest [concern] would be the progression of undiagnosed dental disease,” Carrier said.

Carrier said minor, easily-fixed dental problems can become more significant and urgent over time if left untreated.

“ [It could] go from a situation where you could fix something with a small filling, to now it might need a root canal, it may need a crown, and in extreme cases, dental decay can progress to the point where we can’t fix the tooth and the tooth would need to be removed,” Carrier said.

Carrier said routine care is crucial because many dental concerns or needs are discovered during cleanings and check-ups.

 Carrier said it’s important for patients to note the extra steps dental offices are taking to make patients’ time in the chair as safe as possible.

“We have met [the CDC’s] recommendations or exceeded them to try to create the safest environment possible, and so far patients who come in, the experience is much different now than it would have been this time last year,” Carrier said.

Carrier said patients arriving at MCHD Dentistry are asked to call the front desk and wait in their vehicles rather than in the waiting room.

Patients and staff have their temperatures taken upon entering the building. They are asked to wear masks – which can be provided by MCHD Dentistry – while in the office and not having dental work done.

Additionally, patients are asked COVID-19 symptom screening questions prior to entering the building.

Carrier said changes were made to the layout of the office, including the addition of whole-room air filtration devices in each treatment room and new ventilation equipment is used during dental cleanings.

Providers wear N-95 masks and face shields and extra time is taken at the end of each appointment so treatment rooms can be thoroughly sterilized.

Additionally, patients are asked to contact the office if they develop COVID-19 symptoms soon after their appointments.

For more information on the study done by Next Smile Dental, visit

For more information on MCHD Dentistry and its services, visit