The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way dental practitioners are providing care for their patients. It’s important to understand what these changes are and how they are affecting patients and staff.
As dental offices across the country are reopening and resuming non-emergency services, ourselves included, you may be wondering what to expect from your next dental appointment. The COVID-19 pandemic has created certain challenges for dental offices and has reshaped the patient and practitioner experience. In this blog post, we will examine how COVID-19 closures have negatively impacted patient dental health, discuss how dental offices are following safety guidelines and helping reduce the risk of spread. And the level of risk for patients and dental staff going forward
Patient Dental Health
When states began restricting business operations in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, dental offices were forced to limit their appointments to emergency care only. Patients could not schedule appointments for things such as routine check-ups, follow-up visits, and certain surgical procedures. Due to the delay of care, patients seeking important but non-urgent dental work were unable to receive the care and attention they needed. These delays have caused many people to develop further dental problems and increasing the level of care needed to resolve the issue.
Safety & Sanitation
Dental offices are abiding by new safety measures as outlined by the American Dental Association (ADA) and their respective states in order to reduce the risk and spread of COVID-19. These safety guidelines and health regulations are being implemented in order to protect both patients and dental staff. Specific guidelines can be found on our website, and we’ve also made a video walk-through of our new operating procedures. We will reiterate the protocols and procedures we’ve been enforcing and following for your safety.
On behalf of our staff and our office, we have started implementing the following sanitation standards:
- We’ve isolated our reception staff to help control unnecessary person-to-person contact.,
- We’ve to increase ventilation and various forms of high-speed suction in an effort to reduce aerosolization.
- We’ve ensured all machinery will be disinfected before and after each appointment.
We ask that patients:
- Wear a mask when entering the building.
- Abide by our virtual waiting room to limit the number of patients in our facilities.
- Refrain from bringing unnecessary guests/accompaniments to your appointment.
- Allow your temperature to be taken prior
- Answer COVID-19 screening questions prior to your appointment
Patient and Practitioner Concerns
While these safety guidelines have been instilled to protect dental patients and staff, there are still concerns and risks of COVID-19. One concern is that dental offices are at a higher risk of exposure compared to other everyday activities. Going to a dentist’s office is ranked 4 out of 10 for risks and is considered more necessary than going to bars or restaurants, which are ranked 9 and 6, respectively.
This level of risk is leading some patients to avoid scheduling appointments for fear of infection. Additionally, some hygienists are concerned about exposure from dental tools that can spray and release particles, commonly known as aerosolization. These concerns are understandable, but by following the safety guidelines as closely as possible, patients and practitioners will reduce the level of risk and spread. Keep in mind that dental health is something that cannot be ignored or postponed. We have already seen the effects of delayed dental care with the first few months of this pandemic
Dental appointments might look and feel different for a while, and although the future is unclear, it’s certain that as long as patients and practitioners work together to uphold these safety guidelines and act with caution, dental care can resume.