Sometimes it takes a minute to remember what day or month it is. We are now into our fourth month of stay-at-home orders for many states across the country with some slowly opening and others fully open. We were first introduced to COVID-19 at the end of December/early January with a pandemic declaration in March.
We have seen a lot and we continue to learn about COVID-19. While it can be overwhelming, it is important that we ensure our patients and our teams are safe as we continue to resume care. Now that many offices have reopened, what can patients expect to see at their next dental appointment?
Masks will be worn
It is still unclear how COVID-19 may permanently change infection control practices in dental care settings. This is because it is a rapidly evolving situation and we don’t know what will happen moving forward.
One thing we do know is that when in the dental office, you will be required to wear a mask–at least for now and in most locations. If we are able to minimize the viral particles in the mouth, we will be in a good spot.
Patients won’t be spending a lot of time lounging in the waiting room, flicking through old magazines. Instead, some dental offices have begun to require that patients wait outside or even in their car until the dentist is ready.
There are instances where offices can have chairs outside that are separated by at least six feet. Other offices have allowed for social distancing while waiting in the office. Either way you look at it, spacing will be key.
When asked to wait in the car, patients have been asked to text or call to let the office know they are outside. From there, they may use a phone or tablet to fill out necessary paperwork before being allowed inside for their dental appointment.
Screen before entering
Another way to approach dental care during the pandemic is by screening patients before they enter the office. This might include a temperature check or a quick questionnaire to see how someone is feeling. It is important to identify if anyone feels sick before beginning any procedures.
Beyond the extensive cleaning and protection that dental offices have been doing long before COVID-19, many have expanded on plastic covers on everything. In the dentist’s office, everything may be covered in plastic. The plastic will be stripped off, removed and replaced after every patient.
The goal is to keep the virus outside of our dental offices. It will take some time to get used to, but nothing is certain for the future of how the world or dental care will look. In the meantime, it is important to be patient and take extra precautions whenever possible to protect yourself and others around you.
What are some extra precautions and changes that you and your team are doing to protect yourselves and your patients?