The coronavirus crisis may have put a damper on your dental checkup schedule. With the situation still ongoing, you may wonder if walking into a COVID dental practice for routine care is possible?
An extensive self-isolation, working from home during the pandemic, and extra snacking all day may have negatively impacted your oral health.
Now more than ever, receiving timely oral care is crucial to prevent bacteria build-up and inflammation and strengthen your immune system.
Fortunately, dental offices in Canada have started receiving patients for non-emergency visits.
Is it safe to go to your dentist during the pandemic?
Coronavirus spreads through respiratory droplets attaching themselves to the mucous membranes of eyes, nose, or mouth. An individual may also contract the virus by touching a contaminated surface or object and proceeding to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth. So, it is understandable that you are apprehensive about visiting your dentist.
Globally, the coronavirus has created ripples, with around 29.9 million cases as of September 17, 2020, per CNN reports. Canada registered 141,852, which is 383 cases in 100,000 people.
So, in Canada, public health risk due to COVID-19 is low.
Since the oral health professionals will be working with you on close quarters, hovering over the mouth and nose areas, they take extra precautions - more than before.
Thus, it is not just business as usual, but they must adhere to the updated COVID dental practice safety guidelines.
Safe return to COVID dental practice per Canadian Dental Association (CDA) statement
Although coronavirus is rampant in 213 countries, Canada is witnessing only cluster-contained outbreaks. In contrast, other countries are experiencing intense scenarios with an uncontrolled community transmission.
So, while delaying non-essential dental routine may benefit most countries worldwide, it is unnecessary for Canada. The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) indeed promotes accessible routine oral health care.
All levels of the Government of Canada closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic updates along with the CDA, dentists, and provincial health officers, and dental associations continuously recognize the field’s specific challenges. Medical-grade masks, gloves, N95 respirators, and other PPE stockpiles are available to dentists to protect their staff and patients’ health.
Dentists follow the strictest infection prevention standards
Specific dental procedures using equipment such as ultrasonic scalers, air polishers, and high-speed dental handpieces may cause aerosol generation. Hence, dentists follow a systematic approach to mitigate the risk of COVID-19.
The safety procedures include:
- Using proper protective equipment by dentists, office staff, and the dental team while treating the patients or interacting with them.
- Cleaning and disinfecting the front desk, floors, doorknobs, washrooms, and transaction equipment more frequently.
- Using designated rooms, portable HEPA filtration units, and physical barriers at the facility.
- Scheduling fewer appointments, limiting the number of visitors, using dental rubber dams for the patients and providing hand sanitizers.
- Wearing appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to protect the nose and mouth areas from spray and spatter while performing AGPs (aerosol-generating procedures).
These may include:
- Face shield
- Fit tested N95 mask
- Lab coat
What to know before your oral checkup?
Your visits to a COVID dental practice will be different from earlier.
Here are the changes you can expect:
- You may not have the flexibility to choose a schedule.
Dentists have to space out appointments to ensure proper physical distancing between patients. This way, they get ample time to disinfect their offices. Typically, there will be an administrative waiting period following any AGP, called a fallow period, of 15-30 minutes before the next patient comes in.
2. You will get pre-screened for your dental appointment.
Since the dentists are responsible for protecting their staff and other visitors to the facility, you will be tested for COVID-19. One day before the appointment, they may ask you questions about your condition, whether you have any symptoms, travel history, etc. They may also make a note of your temperature using a touchless thermometer.
3. You cannot bring too many people with you.
Except for small children and people that require assistance, other patients are not allowed to bring attendants. Parents and caregivers accompanying the patients will also need to undergo all the above screening measures.
4. Physical distancing will be ensured.
When you arrive at the COVID dental practice, you may have to wait outside the office until they call you to tell you that you can enter. Even in the waiting room, seating arrangements will be different.
There will be at least two meters of distance between two chairs. Unlike the past, you may not get any magazines to read while you wait as such things can be difficult to disinfect.
5. Dentists, staff and patients will wear mandatory protective gear.
In place of surgical masks during AGPs, dentists will don N95 masks. Other protective gear that is more than normal includes masks, face shields, fit tested personal protective equipment (PPE) and gowns. You have to wear a protective face covering or mask while you are in the office, except during the treatment.
Other new rules are:
- Before your in-person appointment, you should wash your hands with soap and water or a hand sanitizer containing 70-90% alcohol-based solution.
- Bathrooms may remain closed for patient use.
- Preference is given to digital transactions and touchless payment options.
Should you make a dental appointment if you are unwell?
Reschedule or cancel your appointment and stay home or contact your local public health authority if you:
- Exhibit flu-like symptoms or those similar to COVID-19
- Have recently traveled to COVID-19 high-risk regions
- Live with someone who traveled to areas with the ongoing spread of coronavirus
- Suspect coming into close contact with someone that has COVID-19
- Are experiencing breathing trouble or shortness of breath
- Have a temperature, or mild to severe cold or cough
Access comprehensive dental care in the Oshawa area
Skipping COVID dental practice can lead to an increase in harmful bacteria, causing post-viral oral health complications. Due to the inter-bacterial transfer between your lungs and mouth, the risk of coronavirus infection will be higher.
Contact your Oshawa oral hygiene experts, Taunton Village Dental. We follow the highest infection control standards to prevent pandemic risks. From routine hygiene or teeth whitening to restorative dentistry, find all services under one roof. We operate even during the weekends and into the late evenings.