Coronavirus, Teeth and Midnight Swims

The lobby reception at the office of Caroline A. Bobbett, D.D.S.
Photo by Diane Taylor

I had no news for a column this week…until I went to the dentist.

I was told that mask-wearing would be required if I showed for my 4 p.m. three-months-delayed appointment last Thursday. Mask on, I arrived. Only two chairs were in the waiting room as apposed to the usual four or five.

The receptionist sat behind a new plastic shield, and no magazines were in sight.

I sat in silence..until a masked person from somewhere behind the receptionist showed up with a form called “Covid-19 Screening” for me to read and sign. The form asked me a bunch of questions like “Do you have a fever, shortness of breath” etc. As if a person with symptoms would be out of the house and answer yes.

A couple more questions were about my health. The last question was, “Are you over 60?” I answered truthfully and for the life of me, I couldn’t understand what a yes answer to this question would mean.

The last half of the form was called “Covid-19 Emergency Treatment Consent and Release of Claims”. Apparently, I must understand that I am, regardless of the previous questions, still at risk for Covid-19, and if I should get the disease within two weeks of my appointment, I am to inform the dentist’s office…

AND

I give up my right to bring any claims against the practice for just about anything. Sign here.

As I was reading, I was getting angry. This whole exercise was wrong and silly and I felt like running out the door. Later I found out that the staff didn’t like all this form business either.

Then I was called for my cleaning. Old as I am, I went to an examining room.

The doctor came in to look at my teeth before the cleaning began. She mentioned a few spots of tartar. I had to admit that during the three months of virtually doing nothing, I hadn’t brushed as often as when I was more on the go. She said that I was not alone, adding that “incidents of periodontal disease were up 50 percent because of the virus”. She explained that along with inactivity and “candy”, stress played a part as well.

Oh my…really? And then I wondered why, in the media, with all those stories about the effects of the virus (boredom, suicide, etc.), we hadn’t read about the stresses on dental care? People missed appointments. People were afraid to make appointments even when offices were open due to the up-close nature of dental treatment. People who once could afford regular dental visits might not have the money now.

I vowed to up my dental home care, as if I were going out several times a day. I also bought some little brushes recommended by the hygienist and I also now have a big bottle of hydrogen peroxide to mix with water and rinse after each brushing. (The dentist said the mix would be good against germs, too.)

Suddenly, I felt better. So I signed a form; so what! My teeth felt great and I vowed to keep them that way. I also decided to warn others as well. “At-homers, remember you need to take care of your teeth to protect that great smile!”

And on another happy note: Before I went to the dentist, I figured my only column option was a re-run, since on TV I have been watching lots of re-rums. This one, a video, is from 2012 and much of it (before the coronavirus) is as true today as it was eight years ago.

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