December 1, 2020
As flu season descends upon us, and the number of positive COVID cases increases, there can be a growing concern about what this means for exposure. We thought we would give you some important information about dental care during the pandemic. The President of the American Dental Association has informed its members that dental care is considered essential health care. For this reason, there are no plans on recommending another shut down among dentists. In addition, the dental community has implemented so many new protocols for infection prevention, that patients should feel no different about coming into the office now than they did when we reopened in May with everything in place.
The ADA Science and Research Institute and the Health Policy Institute based in Chicago launched the first large-scale collection of U.S. dentists’ infection rates and infection control practices related to COVID-19. Although assumed to be at high risk for infection, fewer than 1% of dentists nationwide were found to be positive, a far lower prevalence of infection compared to other health professions. In a November 17, 2020 article, “according to the CDC, there has been no documented transmission of COVID-19 in a clinical dental setting.”
“This is very good news for dentists and patients,” said ADA Science and Research Institute Chief Executive Officer, Marcelo Araujo, D. D. S., M.S., PhD. “This means that what dentists are doing-heightened infection control and increased attention to patient and dental team safety-is working.”
The ADA’s guidance calls for the highest level of personal protective equipment available and high velocity suction whenever possible.
We are proud to say that we have gone above and beyond by initiating every infection protocol recommended:
- Limited number of people in the waiting room. Chairs are set up 6 feet apart. Although patients do not need to call before entering, if the reception area goes beyond the allowed number of people, steps are taken to immediately correct the situation.
- Screening patients before dental appointments. Please be sure to pre-screen by going to our website, under the COVID tab. On the top right corner you will see “Patient Screening Form [online]. Click on that word [online], and it will bring you to a form that you can fill out and click “submit.” This needs to be done 24 to 48 hours before your appointment. You will also be asked to answer these questions again when you come in for your appointment.
- Taking temperatures of everyone who enters the office.
- Asking patients to reschedule their appointments if they are not feeling well.
- Asking patients to contact the office if they test positive within 2 weeks of being in the office, so we can properly inform patients of potential exposure.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Requiring masks at all times in the office, except during treatment. Please make sure to cover your nose and mouth.
- Double masks, including respiratory masks, shields, and gowns have been added to ensure protection of the staff and the patients during treatment.
- A disinfecting rinse is given to each patient prior to starting treatment.
- Suction units with HEPA filters are used during treatment. This significantly reduces aerosols in the environment.
- Air purifiers with medical grade HEPA filters have been added to increase the cleaning and turnover of air in the office.
- The use of disinfectant fogging at least twice a day adds another layer of disinfection to the air and surfaces.
- The continued cleaning of all frequently touched surfaces with the proper disinfectant gives yet another layer of protection and infection control.
We are greatly encouraged by the study and feel confident that the results show no step is too much when providing dental care to our patients.
We want to let you know that we remain vigilant in our efforts to keep everyone as safe as possible, and hope that this information also encourages you to keep your oral health a priority.
Eugene B Nichols, DMD