The coronavirus has changed everything from the way we pick up our groceries and eat out at restaurants to how we interact with our neighbors.
Not to mention wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
Even routine appointments such as going to the dentist have changed.
Some dental practices in the Historic Triangle are experiencing a backlog of patient appointments, pushing back routine checkups to make room for emergency care.
“We have seen an increase,” said Dr. Robert Morrison, CEO and clinical director of Morrison Dental Group, in terms of patients. “We had a two-month backlog.”
Morrison said some office locations have increased their hours to accommodate those who are going back to work and staggering appointments to have fewer patients.
The offices have been fully staffed since early May and some patients missed preventative care appointments because of the coronavirus, which can cause future problems.
“Whether it’s medicine or dentistry, we all understand if we don’t have that diagnostics and preventative care, more serious complications will arise,” he noted.
Most procedures the dental office is doing is therapy for periodontal disease.
“If left untreated, it can cause infections in the skin or the gums and the bone,” he said. “It can lead to, in very serious cases, Septicemia and that comprises your immune system, which is the last thing you want to be doing,” he added.
Kendra Robinson, clinical director at Old Towne Medical & Dental Center, said they are busy, too.
While the clinic closed March 14, the practice saw patients virtually through telehealth. However, once the clinic reopened in May, they were still experiencing backlogs.
Robinson said they have to reschedule regular checkups when the office closed and are only currently seeing emergency care patients.
“It’s slow,” she said. “It’s taking us a little longer because we have to allow time in between patients.”
The clinic is open four days a week and has to stagger people for appointments, instead of double or triple booking, Robinson said.
They average anywhere from 8-10 patients a day and spend ample time sanitizing equipment and other areas in between.
Some procedures, such as extractions, take longer.
The most common problems the clinic has addressed are those with extractions, abscesses, extractions and other dental infections.
Patients with emergency dental issues are seen within a day or two. Regular appointments with cleanings or routine screenings take longer.
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