COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way the world operates. And while many people are starting to experience coronavirus fatigue, it’s still an important topic. Especially when it comes to the reopening of essential businesses like dentist offices, looking ahead to the future is going to be key.
As dentist offices around the country slowly open back up, it’s important to understand some of the necessary changes they are making to comply with the CDC and to make sure all patients feel safe and comfortable while inside their practice.
Let’s take a minute to explore what the dental industry looks like in a post-COVID world.
What the ADA Is Saying About Dental Sterilization
In March, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommended all dentist offices close to patient visits except for emergency procedures. The goal was to limit the spread of the disease as well as save important PPE supplies for any emergency situations.
Now that dentist offices are resuming business, and practices are seeing patients for more routine visits, the ADA has created science-based data to help protect patients and staff through the use of cleaning and sterilization dental supplies. The goal of these guidelines is to help prevent the spread of disease upon reopening to offer the full range of oral health care.
Both the CDC and ADA recommends the following when it comes to dental sterilization:
- Dental staff should pre-screen patients over the phone concerning their current health status and any potential interaction with COVID-19 patients.
- Encourage patients to wear a face-covering whenever possible upon entering the dental practice.
- Advise patients to attend appointments alone or with only one other person to limit the number of people within the office.
- Perform temperature checks for every individual entering the practice.
- Remove frequently touched items from waiting rooms and patient rooms to limit transmission.
- Practice safe social distancing by spacing out appointment times and asking patients to wait in their car until the dental staff is ready to take them to a patient room.
- Instruct dental staff to wear PPE when appropriate, including N95 surgical masks, face shields, or goggles.
Additional recommendations for dental hygienists from the ADA is to switch to hand scaling when cleaning teeth, using high-velocity suction when possible, and using rubber dental dams. The goal is to reduce aerosols as much as possible.
All of these are recommendations and so every state might have its own set of regulations that must be followed.
What Future Dental Appointments Will Look Like
There is some uncertainty around what to expect when going to the dentist for the rest of the year and beyond. Dental health is an important part of overall health and wellness, and so it’s important not to ignore it.
Now that offices are opening back up and taking important precautions, it should be safe to make regular visits to maintain good oral health habits.
Before a Dental Appointment
While every office might operate a little differently depending on the state, most patients can expect to get a phone call from dental staff members explaining new procedures and requirements. There will be a quick phone screening about current health status and patients will be informed to wear masks, limit the number of people at an appointment, stay in their cars, or to bring their own pens.
During the Dental Appointment
In most instances, upon arrival to the dental practice, patients will be given another health screening and their temperature will be taken. Inside the office, most magazines, toys, and pamphlets will have been removed to prevent touching. Hand sanitizer should be available and staff members may be using dental cleaning supplies to keep surfaces germ-free.
Once in the exam room, dental staff members will look a little different. They may be wearing heavy-duty dental gloves, goggles, face shields, or N95 surgical masks. Keyboards may be covered with disposable covers and all equipment will be sanitized and ready for use.
After the Dental Appointment
Once a patient leaves the building, dental staff members will thoroughly clean using dental sterilization supplies on the areas a patient has come into contact with including the dental chair, reception area, and waiting room. The intent is to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 to the next patient or the staff.
Finding Access to PPE and Cleaning Dental Supplies
Ultimately, it is important for dental practices to have regular access to gloves and other dental supplies. By partnering with Clinical Supply Company, dentist offices can ensure they get the dental supplies they need to keep patients safe. We have inventory, have not experienced any disruption in our supply chain, and in some cases, can ship dental supplies the same-day to ensure fast and efficient delivery.