Dr. Nammy Patel, founder of Green Dentistry in San Francisco, California, and author of the bestselling book, Age with Style: Guide To a Youthful Smile & Healthy Living, discusses coronavirus and dental health.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher and I’m here today with Dr. Nammy Patel, founder of Green Dentistry in San Francisco, California, helping patients recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health, and author of the bestselling book, Age with Style: Guide To a Youthful Smile & Healthy Living. Today, we’re talking about coronavirus and your dental health. Welcome Dr. Nammy.
Dr. Nammy Patel: Hi John, thank you for having me.
Relationship Between Dental Health and Overall Health
John: Sure. So, Dr. Nammy, We’re in kind of an unprecedented situation here now with the coronavirus being very prevalent in the United States, and a lot of things kind of going on lockdown and people sheltering in their homes and things like that. Why don’t you just start off, if you could, maybe telling us a little bit about the relationship between your dental health and your overall health and why that’s important.
Dr. Nammy: So, John, the most important thing to know about the mouth is that it is the window to your whole health, and it is a window to your gut, which is your immune system. So, especially at a time like this with the coronavirus, it is very important to make sure that your mouth health is very healthy.
Taking Care of Dental Health During the Coronavirus Outbreak
John: What can people do now, you know, because again, people are trying to stay home, are people allowed to go to the dentist and have their regular cleanings done? Can they only go in emergency situations? Or, you know, what’s in effect right now?
Dr. Nammy: So, what I would recommend and what is in effect right now is that it is best to hold off on any elective dentistry. What that means is, if you are in pain, definitely call your dentist and be seen for emergency care. But, if you do not have any pain, stay home. The main reason for this is, in dentistry we use dental drills which have water in it, which can create aerosols. Our goal with the coronavirus right now is to really limit the exposure, and the majority of the people probably do not have it or are not going to be exposed to it because it targets the immunocompromised and the elderly. So, if you’re not in that population, most likely with COVID-19 you’re going to be okay. But, the main reason we’re taking these precautions is to make sure that, number one, we give safety to society. Number two, we’re not spreading the virus. Number three, we’re plateauing that curve so that we can get back to normal day to day life.
John: Right, so if people can only go in an emergency sort of situation, what does that entail? Like, you said if you have tooth pain, therefore you might need something like a root canal, something like that?
Dr. Nammy: Yes, absolutely. That is the number one thing that patients go in for is if there is pain. You may have a tooth that cracks or you may have, you know, something that may feel a little funny. If you can just wait two to three weeks for that, that would be great. But, if there is tooth pain, I would definitely recommend being seen. And, if you are considering a root canal, I urge you to go to a specialist, and they are called an endodontist. They’re a root canal specialist. They use the microscopes to do root canals. It’s very important that they’re done properly so that you can have a long lasting restoration that goes on it. And then, also, you are able to, you know, wait out the two to three weeks and kind of go back and get the work done that’s going to be necessary after that.
John: Okay. In terms of regular, you know, six month checkups, those are on hold for now.
Dr. Nammy: They are on hold for now, at least for two to three weeks. The main reason, again, for this is really, you know, making sure that there’s not a lot of human to human contact, and by that, we mean on surfaces like doorknobs, elevator buttons, you know, our parking garages or what have you. We’re really limiting that transfer of the virus, so we’re really minimizing any sort of dental work. Rather than an actual huge cavity that’s really bothering you, that’s the time that we want you to go in. But, other than that, stay in your homes and really help us curb this virus.
Dental Care at Home
John: In terms of what people can do at home, what do you recommend for people in terms of self care at home? You know, obviously you want people to continue brushing and flossing. Is there anything else that people can do to kind of step it up while they’re not able to go back to the dentist and get their cleanings done?
Dr. Nammy: Yes, absolutely. There are two things, and it just doesn’t have to do with the teeth, it actually is going to have to do with the nose as well. The first thing is really making sure you’re cleaning your nostrils. The coronavirus actually lives in your sinus, or that’s the area that actually has access to first. From there, it spreads everywhere else, so it’s really important that clean your nasal cavities, and then make sure if you’re in environments where there’s snow or a dry environment, that you’re hydrating it, hydrating your nose with rubbing coconut oil with a Q-tip or rubbing your nostrils with castor oil. Those are great ancient remedies that do a world of wonder. It’s really important to make sure that you avoid getting the virus, number one.
Dr. Nammy: Number two, the things that you can do for your mouth, and the most common thing patients always say is I have bleeding gums. If you have bleeding gums, it will be okay. Most likely, you have signs of gum disease. The best things you can do for yourself is to floss, and if you have peroxide, take a tablespoon of peroxide and put it in eight ounces of water and swish your mouth out for about a minute, and then spit it out, morning and night. If you do that, peroxide has oxygen, it will also kill the coronavirus, number one. Number two, it will also kill any other bacteria. Bad bacteria cannot live with oxygen, so the peroxide is really, really, really helpful in getting rid of those bad bugs.
Preventing the Spread of Coronavirus During Emergency Procedures
John: Okay. For people that are coming to the dentist to get, you know, emergency procedures done, what kinds of steps are you taking to help prevent the spread of coronavirus in your office, in your dental practice?
Dr. Nammy: So, the first thing we always do is that, in order to prevent the spread, and we do this with all of our patients and in general, whether coronavirus or not, is to follow universal precautions, so we have special masks that we use. We also use gloves, we have protective, you know, equipment. We also have, you know, gowns that we wear in order to make sure that we’re protected. For our patients, we’re making sure we’re rubbing down the doorknobs, we’re cleaning all the rooms, and using EPA approved chemicals to make sure that we are getting rid of the coronavirus and any other microorganism that may be pathogenic. Aside from that, we make sure that the patients are also rinsing with peroxide before we actually look inside the mouth, and in my practice I’ve actually used a laser as well. I use a laser to disinfect the area, to sterilize the mouth as much as I can, because again, what we’re doing is making sure we’re getting rid of those bad guys and letting the good ones survive.
John: All right, that’s really great information, Dr. Nammy. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Dr. Nammy: My pleasure, John.
John: For more information about Green Dentistry, visit the website at sfgreendentist.com or call (415) 578-9347.