To Vaccinate or not to Vaccinate?

Posted April 14, 2021.

Just recently, I received the two-step Pfizer Covid vaccine; everything went just fine, and other than a little soreness in my shoulder, I didn't notice any other symptoms!

I was skeptical and hesitant at first, and to be truthful, I really did not want to vaccinate. I do consider myself to be a very practical and analytical person and I find an appreciation for accurate studies and long-term research when it comes to science. This is how we chose what type of implants we offer and the type sleep apnea solutions we provide in our office! When our patients come to the office interested in veneers, we go with what we know works based on our experience, as well as perform research on the best bonding and ceramics available today!

So when a new medication or vaccine comes to market, I’m typically not the first person to jump on the bandwagon. In the end, it all came down to deciding that if I choose not to vaccinate I could potentially harm others, including our high-risk patients along with myself; but if I did vaccinate, I could potentially only be harming myself. Choosing to vaccinate became the less selfish answer and only will tell on how well the vaccine works!

I absolutely hate masks outside the office! But they are a necessary evil sometimes.

For spring break my family and I had the opportunity to go to Florida for a week, and it was an absolute blast! It was our first time going to Disney World, and we also had a great experience at the waterpark resort we stayed at. Lots of time in the sun and a lot of walking, which I think I said a new record for steps on my Smart Watch! :-)

Everywhere we went inside the parks there were mask signs, and the cast members were very stern about keeping them above your nose. We appreciated the concern, but it is hard in the humid for young kids (and the adults too)!

At Dental School we spent a lot of time learning about aerosols, cell biology, and cross contamination.

For years I have washed my hands between every patient, and I wear a mask during every dental procedure I provide. I can't wait for masks to go away for social situations, but If someone has a cold or cough, I do believe they should be wearing a mask.

During my years of the study of sleep apnea and breathing, we know that when you exhale you release acidic carbon dioxide, which is acidic! When you are wearing a mask, you may be recycling that acidic carbon dioxide right back into your respiratory system. When your body becomes more acidic, what happens? That’s right, you are more prone to infections and a compromised immune system.

Right now we need stronger immunity to bacteria and disease, not less and oxygen is the key to better breathing and a healthier body! One day in the Disney parks I developed a very strong headache, and while there have been many reports of people experiencing headaches from wearing masks, up until this point, I had not once experienced that.

During the first year I was in the clinic in dental school, I wore a mask for every single procedure, yet I was getting a cold, sore throat, and the sniffles all the time. The doctor in the school clinic let me know that I was taking my punches now, but eventually, I would have the immune system of an ox! (Do oxen actually have strong immune systems?) During the second year of clinics I had a lot less cold symptoms, and now that I’ve been in practice for nearly 11 years, I rarely get a cold or flu! Masks did not prevent the problem; it was my exposure to a limited amount of patients with the cold or flu that helped build my immune system.

Whether that was the cause or not, no one really knows (although I'm sure the delicious desserts in the park didn’t help!), but typically I don’t wear masks when I’m outdoors, especially when practicing proper social distancing or when I'm with my family.

In the end, I have a lot of hope for RNA-type vaccines, such as the current ones being given for COVID-19, and in the research being performed on these vaccines. Handwashing, social distancing, exercising, and eating healthy have a multitude of benefits and we have a lot of research proving that they work! However for me, the jury is still undecided on the effectiveness of masks.

A recent study by the American Academy of Periodontology found that patients with gum disease are three times more likely to get severe COVID-19 symptoms, including hospitalization and death! (Source: perio.org). I personally believe that a healthy mouth leads to a healthy body, which is not a new concept among dental and healthcare providers, and I hope that we continue to get more research in this area. We are here to help you continue being healthy and boost your immune system with a healthy mouth.

From everyone here at Pinecrest Dental, we hope you have a happy and healthy month, and that you enjoy this amazing month of weather in Utah!

If you have any thoughts about this I’d love to hear your feedback! You can call us at (801) 503-0035, text us at (855) 625-2554 or email us at questions@pinecrestdds.com.

Tyler Williams, D.D.S.

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