COVID-19
COVID-19

Dental Services during the COVID-19 Crisis

Oral Health Kansas is dedicated to keeping consumers, clinicians, and public health professionals informed as the state has moved to reopening. Below are some helpful resources from:

 Kansas Department of Health and Environment Bureau of Oral Health
 Kansas Dental Association
 American Dental Association
 Centers for Disease Control

We are here to help! Here is how Oral Health Kansas responded to the Covid-19 crisis.

Information for dental patients:
When you return to the dental office, here are some recommendations to stay safe (English, Spanish).
Two clinics in Kansas showed us what changes they've implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please watch the video below.



Dental Professionals Providing The COVID Vaccine

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s Executive Order authorizing most healthcare professionals to provide COVID vaccines. Executive Order 21-06 is a temporary authorization of additional vaccinators, including dentists and dental hygienists, during the public health state of disaster emergency. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also has amended the emergency declaration to authorize dentists and dental students to provide COVID vaccines. The American Dental Association shared additional information about this federal policy change.

We are learning more about what this means for dentists and hygienists. If dental professionals are interested in volunteering at COVID vaccine sites, the best course of action is to contact the local health department to ask how to be a part of the community vaccination process.Contact information for each county’s local health department in Kansas can be found on page 6 of this directory.

Recruiting medical practices to vaccinate their patients. Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is encouraging eligible health care providers, including medical practices, to enroll as COVID-19 vaccinators. Participating as a COVID-19 vaccinator is a public service that you can offer to your patients, beginning with those who have pre-existing health conditions. Depending on storage capacity and the number of patients projected to be vaccinated weekly, enrolled medical practices will either receive vaccine directly from participating health systems/hospitals or from their local health department.

Enrolling as a vaccinator. There are three steps to becoming a COVID-19 vaccination provider:

  • Learn the details: how to participate
  • Get signed up on the KDHE website
  • Get trained - the Kansas Immunization Program (KIP) will contact you to get scheduled after you enroll

For questions or issues, send an email to kdhe.COVIDEnrollment@ks.gov or call 1-877-296-0464

Kansas providers can find additional information about being a COVID vaccine provider at this state website: https://www.kansasvaccine.gov/31/Vaccine-Providers. Additional information is available on the federal government's Public Health Emergency website.

The Connection Between COVID-19 and Periodontal Disease

A February 2021 study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology looked at the connection between the severity of COVID-19 symptoms and periodontal, or gum, disease. As we know, COVID-19 is a respiratory tract infection with many complex effects on the body. About 14% of cases are severe enough to require hospitalization and oxygen support. Early studies are showing that there is a clear link between the severity of COVID-19 and hyperinflammation. Periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease, also results in inflammation. This new study has begun to look at the possibility of an association between gum disease and COVID-19 complications.

Gum disease is one of the most prevalent chronic inflammatory diseases. Fifty percent of adults are affected by mild to moderate gum disease, and 10% by the severe form of the disease. The severe form of gum disease destroys the structures supporting teeth and can result in tooth loss if left untreated. Gum disease also can affect overall health, as it is associated with an increased risk of chronic and debilitating diseases including heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, chronic renal disease, pneumonia, and cancer.

The study identified that the risk of COVID-19 complications was significantly higher among patients with moderate-to-severe gum disease, as compared with patients with mild or no gum disease. Gum disease was associated with a higher risk of admission to intensive care, assisted ventilation, and even death among COVID-19 patients.

Further research is necessary, but the early indications are that maintaining gum health may be important not only for overall health, but also for reducing the severity of COVID-19 complications. During this pandemic, dental offices remain open, and they are taking extraordinary precautions to keep patients and dental office staff safe. Do not put off routine dental care. To learn more about some of the changes you may see in your dental office, watch Oral Health Kansas’ video about what you can expect.

 

Oral Health and COVID-19: Increasing the Need for Prevention and Access
The February 2021 research study from the Journal of Clinical Periodontology found the risk of COVID-19 complications is significantly higher for people with moderate-to-severe gum disease (periodontitis), as compared to those with milder or no gum disease. Gum disease is an inflammatory condition, and COVID-19 is as well. The connection is significant. The study went on to say that gum disease is associated with higher risk of intensive care unit admission, the need for assisted ventilation, and even death due to COVID-19.

An August 2020 commentary from the Preventing Chronic Disease journal underscores the importance of the study’s findings. Populations that are at high risk for COVID-19 include people in low socioeconomic groups, older adults, people living rural areas, and people who are uninsured. These populations are also at an increased risk for as well as oral and other chronic diseases. The commentary notes, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that ‘non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians and Alaska Natives generally have the poorest oral health of any racial and ethnic groups in the United States,’ and these same populations have disproportionately higher incidence of COVID-19 related infection and death.” These at-risk populations also face more barriers to dental and health care services.

The authors note that removing policy, regulatory, workforce, and reimbursement barriers and incentivizing prevention would increase access to oral health care and improve population health for the populations most at risk for COVID-19 complications and oral diseases. One recommendation the authors suggest is to revisit reimbursement models that typically incentivize surgical restorative procedures like crowns and multi-surface fillings and move to “prioritize preventive and nonsurgical, nonaerosolizing treatments and make them more financially sustainable.”

Medicaid coverage of dental services is one key way of reaching the populations most vulnerable to oral diseases, as well as COVID-19. Kansas has limited coverage of dental care for adults, and Oral Health Kansas is working on advocating for comprehensive coverage. To learn more and get involved in the advocacy, contact us at info@oralhealthkansas.org.

Dental offices are working hard to make dental care safe and accessible during the pandemic. To learn more about what to expect during your dental visit, check out and share our video.

 


Follow Us