In the early days of the COVID pandemic, many family dental offices closed their doors for everything but emergency care. Regular checkups were postponed in those first weeks as healthcare providers got a handle on the coronavirus and its impact. But as communities realize that COVID isn’t going away anytime soon, patients and providers are returning to routine dental care with extra hygiene practices. COVID will be a fact of life for months if not years. So it’s clear that putting off regular dental care doesn’t make sense. However, COVID is still a genuine threat, so patients and dentists must take extra precautions to keep dental care safe.
How Will My Dentist Help Keep Me Safe?
The good news is that infection control and hygiene have always been cornerstones of the dental profession. Well before COVID, reducing the risk of infection has been a priority. Open mouths and fluids are part of everyday life in the world of dentistry. Good hygiene practices have long been an integral part of the profession as we keep patients and staff safe. Your dentist and office staff have always focused on:
- Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.
- Using disposable items when possible and sterilizing non-disposable dental tools.
- Disposing of gloves and masks after each patient.
However, with COVID as a factor, your dentist is adding extra cleaning and sanitization practices to already strict protocols. Dentists are also adding personal protective equipment to their daily routine, including masks, face shields, gowns, and goggles. These added protocols protect both patients and staff from COVID. You’ll also notice that some familiar elements of dental appointments have changed.
What Should I Expect When I See the Dentist During COVID?
There are some simple steps your dentist’s office will take to help prevent the spread of COVID. These involve checking on a patient’s overall health before entering the office, reducing the number of people in the waiting room, and eliminating the potential for surface transmission. These additional steps may seem inconvenient, but they’re essential to protecting patients and staff.
- Before your visit, you’ll be asked some basic health questions to see if you’ve had recent COVID symptoms like cough or fever.
- Your dentist may do a no-touch temperature check.
- Most offices are now limiting the number of people who can come to an appointment with the patient. Parents should avoid bringing siblings to the office. Older children may be asked to go into the office alone while parents wait in the car.
- Your dentist may ask you to call when you arrive and wait outside until the staff is ready for your appointment. This limits the number of people and amount of time spent in waiting rooms.
- Wear a mask as you enter and leave the office and while waiting for your appointment. You’ll remove your face covering for your procedure or checkup.
- The usual fun stuff at your family dentist’s office (like toys and magazines) have been removed from most offices to prevent surface transmission.
- Be patient: your dentist and his staff are doing their best to serve patients while maintaining social distancing and following CDC and state guidelines.
- The American Dental Association advises patients to let their dentist’s office know if they feel sick within two weeks of their visit. This will help with contact tracing in case of a COVID diagnosis.
Staying Safe at Greenhill Family Dental Care
Going to a routine medical or dental appointment certainly has an extra layer of anxiety in the age of COVID. It may be tempting to put off those regular appointments. But as the long-lasting impact of the virus becomes clear, healthcare providers understand that routine care simply can’t be put off indefinitely. It’s essential to get those non-urgent checkups and cleanings taken care of to avoid problems down the road. At Greenhill Family Dental, we have detailed plans in place to protect our patients and staff. We’re working with patients to explain new protocols and boost comfort levels. Remember, your dentist is already an expert at keeping things clean–now we’re taking things up a notch to keep you safe.