As COVID cases are skyrocketing, with flu season coming and with testing, treatments, and vaccines all up in the air, is it safe to go to the dentist's office, even with all this going on? For my office, I offer a resounding "Yes, it is safe to go to the dental office!"
Dental care is essential for a healthy life. Pain, broken teeth, bacterial infection, abscesses, periodontal disease, sinus infections, are very bad for you and they CANNOT wait for the "all clear". There isn't going to be an "all clear" call for quite some time. And if you have any of those conditions mentioned and you don't treat them, life can get pretty difficult. Now it is far from business as usual. But we know more now about the modes of COVID transmission than we did way back in February. And I have adjusted the office accordingly.
- We still screen prior and ask that if you are feeling sick, been exposed to COVID, are in between getting tested, or have traveled from a COVID heavy area, please postpone your appointment until you are more secure with the current condition of your health.
- We have waiting room doors open with high powered ventilation fans pumping in fresh air. Also, we have a high capacity medical-grade air filter to help scrub the air that is circulated.
- There is not a high density of patients in that waiting room. Most of the time it's a "door to dental room" scenario.
- We have everyone wash their hands first thing they when they do enter into the back office treatment areas.
- Conventional screening of temperature checks and pulse oximetry are still being done to cover all the bases even though the efficacy of such screenings is now under scrutiny.
- We have you rinse with an anti-viral / anti-bacterial solution to cut down on any viral or bacterial load in your mouth.
- Everything touched by patients is wiped down and disinfected after treatments are performed.
- Even though transmission through contaminated touched surfaces or "fomites" is very low, everything a patient or we can touch is wiped down or sprayed down frequently (door handles, bathroom sinks, pens, clipboards, countertops, etc). Plus to do anything else but that would be just gross.
- As always, all instruments are sterilized.
- All windows (weather permitting) are kept open to create better fresh airflow and fresh air exchange.
- More high capacity medical-grade air filters are installed in the hallway and in EACH treatment room to scrub the air that is freshly circulated.
- We all wear level 3 surgical masks with custom 3-d printed "mask fitters" to create a tight seal around our faces.
- Masks are worn at all times
- Patients wear masks at all times except when they are being worked on (of course)
- Rubber dams are used to cut down on viral and bacterial load while we are working.
- A second high-volume vacuum suction was added to increase the volume of "suction" chairside while we are doing our work.
- Everything not able to be sterilized is either disposable or covered with barrier wraps that are changed after each patient
- The HVAC air system was upgraded to increase airflow in the office and MERV 13 air filters were installed.
We know now that prevention of transmission is all about air exchange, filtration, masks, hand washing, and airflow. We have maximized everything in the office for those directives.
To date, there has been ZERO contact tracing of transmission of COVID in the dental office setting, from patient to doctor or from doctor to patient.
Dentists have been dealing with situations like this for decades: TB, hepatitis, measles, influenza, HIV, swine flu, H1N1, and now COVID. The protocols we have had in place and the additions to those scientifically directed protocols WORK. We protect ourselves and we protect our patients.
If you have any questions about our office protocols or if you are having any kind of dental issue and can't find a good dentist to take care of you, call us and we'll be happy to answer all your questions and will take great care of you.