By Dr. Robert Gallegos, Middleburg Smiles

— Dentists are happy to be back full-time to care for you! The governor has lifted the emergency and urgent care only directive.

To better protect you, offices have enhanced their facilities and practices to accommodate all patients in a healthy way. Dentists have implemented health screenings, enhanced office and building sanitization, and put physical distancing procedures in place.

Dentistry is an essential service that needs to continue, even during this crisis, in order to maintain and/or regain your health. The stay-at-home directive does not pertain to essential services such as dentistry. It is also important for those who have appointments scheduled to keep your appointments and reschedule any missed appointments.

Dental care is essential to your overall health. We often forget how important our regular visits for hygiene are to our health. It is very easy for a healthy person who misses just one appointment to develop gingivitis, which is an infection of the gums and the precursor to periodontal disease.

We also know that if decay, abscess and cracked teeth are left untreated, these will progress and require more invasive and expensive procedures. All of these disease processes stress our immune systems, making us more susceptible to other health problems and infections, including COVID-19.