Are you thinking of vising the dentist during COVID-19?
Visiting the dentist during COVID-19 has caused many to pause and question whether they should or should not walk into the dental office. Let’s face it: there’s a lot of uncertainty in the world today and having a dental appointment during the COVID-19 pandemic is a good reason to start asking some questions. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions we have been hearing about visiting the dentist during this time of SARS-CoV-2.
Should I put off my cleaning appointment until after the COVID-19 pandemic is over?
While it can be tempting to put off your regular checkup until things feel more “normal,” we advise against it. Routine appointments, whether you are visiting the dentist during COVID-19 or at any other time, give us an opportunity to check for a number of dental health conditions and (hopefully) catch them early. Some conditions, like cavities and gum disease, can be more difficult, painful and expensive to treat if they’re left undetected. Your health and safety is, and has always been, our top priority. Dental offices have always been held to the highest standard of infection control and COVID-19 has taken that to a whole new level. Rest assured that we are taking every precaution to limit the risk of COVID-19 transmission at your visit.
How are you going to keep me safe when I am visiting the dentist during COVID-19?
- We have medical grade air purifiers in each treatment room.
- We are now wearing enhanced PPE such as surgical gowns, two masks and a faceshield.
- We have made the office look bare on purpose. More items out mean more things to clean so we only have out what is absolutely necessary for your appointment.
- We have enhanced our regular cleaning protocols. In addition to treatment room disinfection and instrument sterilization, we are now also frequently disinfecting commonly touched surfaces.
- We are “fogging” the office each night for another layer of disinfection, from the ceiling down to the floor.
- We have installed physical barriers at the front desk.
- The reception area is closed. All patients must wait in their car.
- Office entry is restricted to the patient only. If a caregiver must be present then one caregiver is allowed.
- Masks are required for anyone entering the office.
- We are scheduling to allow for social distancing. This means fewer options may be available.
- All patients must use our touch-less hand sanitizing station upon entering the building.
- An anti-microbial mouth rinse will be used by all patients prior to the appointment.
What is fogging?
Fogging is when air is used to transform liquid into droplets so that they can be dispersed into the air. In our office we are fogging the air each day with hypochlorous acid (HOCl). Hypochlorous acid is not as scary as it may sound. HOCl is made by adding electricity to water, salt and vinegar. It is known as electrolyzed water. It is 100% safe, non-toxic, non-irritating and it is eco-friendly. In fact, it is also naturally made in the body. Your body makes HOCL when fighting off germs as part of your immune response. As harmless as it is to humans and mammals, HOCL is actually quite lethal to pathogens because of it’s unique chemistry. This is why it is not only being used in dental offices, but it is also used by hospitals, airlines and cruise ships and many other industries.
What different behavior do you expect from patients?
First, at least 24 hours prior to the appointment the office will be reaching out to complete a set of pre-screening questions. The purpose of this screening is to make sure we are not treating anyone who may be suffering from COVID-19. If this pre-screening is not completed for any reason, then the office may release the appointment to another patient. Of course, we expect all patients to answer these questions honestly!
Secondly, we ask that all patients remain in their car when they arrive and call the office to let us know you are in the parking lot. A staff member will meet you at your car so that we can re-assess the pre-screening and also check certain vital signs like temperature and blood oxygen levels (pulse ox).
Finally, we ask that all patients bring a mask with them to the appointment. It is required to enter and exit the office.
How is the staff being monitored for COVID-19?
- All staff members are encouraged to remain vigilant for any signs of illness and they are encouraged to stay home if they are not feeling well and contact their medical provider for advice if necessary.
- Upon arrival at work all staff members are screened. This includes checking their temperature and their blood oxygen levels (pulse ox).
- All staff members wear their personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times. PPE is only removed when eating, drinking, or when the staff member is alone.
Can I substitute a virtual visit for an in-person visit?
A phone or video appointment isn’t the same as a regular appointment. Teledentistry can be helpful in some situations, such as deciding if an issue you’re experiencing is an emergency that requires immediate treatment or if it’s something that can wait a bit. If you are unsure if you need to be seen or if it can wait, please call the office and we’ll help you decide if you need to come in.
Do I need to be worried about aerosols?
If 2020 had a word, it would definitely be aerosol!
Aerosols are airborne biological particles. In dentistry we consider an aerosol to be less than 50 microns in size. For reference, 50 microns is about the width of a human hair.
When it comes to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that is causing the current pandemic, what everyone is worried about are respiratory aerosols. Respiratory aerosols originate in the lungs and broncial airways and are produced when talking, coughing, sneezing, etc.
Dentistry produces salivary aerosols. The truth is this: no one can say for sure how much, if any, viral particles are present in saliva.
At Farmington Village Dental we have always taken precautions to control the amount of salivary aerosols that are produced during procedures. The high volume suction alone captures the overwhelming majority of aerosols that are produced during a procedure. In our office, however, we not only use high volume suction but we also use barrier devices such as the rubber dam (Dr. Krause’s favorite) or the Isolite (Dr. Nadeau’s favorite). Besides reducing aerosols, rubber dam isolation and Isolite isolation ensure a dry environment when we are working and placing fillings. White fillings (aka composite fillings) should only be placed in a dry environment, and that it why these methods have been used in our office as the standard way of doing fillings since our inception.
What our suctions and barrier methods don’t capture our medical grade air purifiers sure do. We have medical grade air purifiers in each treatment room. These air purifiers are the same ones that are used in hospitals and operating rooms. They have a six stage air purification system which includes a HEPA filter and a UV-C sterilizer. With our office size and the number of air purifiers we have, you can be sure that there is fresh, clean, purified air circulating through the office about every few minutes.
Visiting the dentist during COVID-19 can be scary. We hope that this blog post has shown you what we are doing to keep you safe and we hope to see you at your appointment soon! If you would like more information on how we are keeping our patients safe please visit this blog post. You can always call us too. We’re happy to answer any additional questions you may have.
Are you looking for a Farmington, CT dentist? If so, we are accepting new patients. Call us today at 860-676-2288 to schedule your appointment.