Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pine Street Dental in Spartanburg has experienced distinct changes over the past year. However, it didn’t take long for the practice to adapt, and, according to Dr. Omar Figueroa, business remains steady with new and regular patients.
“We instituted protocols like wearing PPE, continuously disinfecting, practicing social distancing in the office and in the waiting room, allowing more time between appointments, taking temperatures and, of course, not allowing appointments for anyone who felt sick,” he said.
During the spring shutdown of 2020, however, the practice closed for six weeks, and Dr. Figueroa admitted that getting hygiene appointments back in line with his patients’ schedules was a challenge when the office first reopened.
“Many people decided to wait and put off their appointments, which proved to be a challenge once we were able to see them,” he remembered.
Some of those challenges presented themselves as an increase in plaque and calculus. With patients out of their routines, Dr. Figueroa said he saw more food around his patients’ teeth in general because they hadn’t received a professional cleaning in quite some time. That, in turn, created more calculus around the teeth, which put more pressure on the gums, causing bleeding.
He warned that when patients put off their regular teeth cleaning appointments, and if they have a cavity, it will only get worse and could even lead to infection. Dr. Figueroa pointed out that he saw similar issues both in children and adults.
“The No. 1 question I get from all my patients is, ‘do I have a cavity?’” he said.
Since many cavities cannot be seen with the naked eye and can only be caught with an X-ray, it is vital that cleaning appointments are kept on a regular basis to avoid any potential infections.
Another common question Dr. Figueroa hears is, “what are the best toothbrush and toothpaste to use?” His resounding answer is: “In the end, just brush your teeth with any toothbrush or toothpaste – as long as you are doing it.”
But he said he would recommend toothpaste that contains fluoride and also approved by the American Dental Association. As for a toothbrush, Dr. Figueroa said he prefers the electronic type over manual.
“Some rotate, some go up and down. The bottom line is that they basically do all the work for you when brushing your teeth. Just find one that you like, no matter the size, and use it,” he said.
Of course, flossing is important but also something that Dr. Figueroa said is a “hard habit for many people to pick up.” Flossing removes food from areas inside the gums and between teeth that are harder to reach, and Dr. Figueroa said it can prevent cavities in the long run. He added that even though many of his patients say they have a hard time picking up the habit of flossing, once they do, they are hooked.
“Water picks are also great for hard-to-reach places,” he pointed out.
As always, fear of the dentist is still an issue for many patients.
“I want people to know that we can work around any fears and take a more general approach,” he said.
Dr. Figueroa and his team at Pine Street Dental want their patients to know that every precaution has been put in place to ensure their safety and that making a point to see the dentist on a regular basis is vital to overall health.
By Theresa Stratford
For more information, visit pinestdentalsc.com or call 864-582-5000. Para español llame 864-232-8100.