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Visiting The Dentist: What To Expect During COVID-19

A trip to the dentist is something unavoidable. Even if you were to forego everything elective during the pandemic, you have to take the trip during an emergency. Maybe you’ve chipped a tooth, maybe you have an ache which won’t subside, maybe there’s a restoration that has dislodged – one can never be too careful. But don’t worry – in this post, we’ll walk you through what to expect at the dentist’s office should you have to visit.

The Journal of the American Dental Association published a report in October last year which stated that less than 1% of dentists nationwide were tested positive COVID-19. Additionally, 99% of dentists and dental offices were using enhanced procedures of infection control. These included rigorous screening and disinfection practices when treating patients.

While all the dental offices were closed during the lockdown and the American Dental Association had recommended that dentists postpone elective procedures until the 30th of April, things are different now that everything has reopened. Now we understand that it might feel worrisome, but we’re here to tell you that you’re in safe and capable hands. Preventative and regular oral health care isn’t something we would advise you to ignore. Because this could very well be the new normal. So let’s find out what the entire process entails during COVID-19.

Visiting the Dentist

Before Your Appointment To The Dentist

Okay. So you’ve decided to take a leap of faith and visit your dentist. We’ll say, “Good on you.” Because the last thing you need right now is a pesky toothache.

  • Make sure you call the office to schedule an appointment. Because due to COVID-19, appointments may not be too flexible to avoid having too many patients inside the office at once.
  • Your dental office will call you before your appointment to get an update on your health. They will also repeat these when you reach the office. Please don’t get annoyed with the repetitions – they’re necessary for not only the staff’s health but also yours.
  • The staff might also ask you not to bring any extra people with you to avoid crowding at the office. Furthermore, children might be made to visit the dentist unaccompanied by the parents (they will have to wait outside). If there is a patient that requires assistance or needs to be accompanied, the person accompanying them will be screened as well.

During Your Appointment At The Dentist

As of June 19, 2020, the American Dental Association released a Return To Work Interim Guidance Toolkit. This includes guidelines and updated procedures pertaining to the pandemic. The guidance contains additional measures along with the previous existing infection prevention protocols. It includes recommendations for before, during, and after any dental appointments.

  • If there is a mask mandate in your city or state, please make sure that you are wearing one when you show up for your appointment. You will be asked to keep the mask on at all times except during treatment.
  • You may be asked to wait for a little while outside. Again, this is done to reduce patient exposure.
  • Your temperature will be taken once you enter the facility.
  • You’ll find the staff donning extra personal protective equipment – gowns, face shields, gloves, etc.
  • The waiting rooms and offices will have no more magazines, toys, etc. to avoid cross-contamination. Chairs will be placed six feet (two meters) apart. Hand sanitizers will be placed throughout the office, and everything you touch like the furniture, pens, or the clipboard will be wiped down.
  • Bathrooms might not be accessible (depends on the dental office).
  • The dental chairs and computers might be covered in disposable covering to change or clean in between patients. You will also be provided with extra protective gear to keep both you and the staff safe.

After Your Appointment

  • After your procedure has finished, the staff will replace the covers and wipe down the dental chair or anywhere you’ve been with disinfectants to prepare for the next patient. This also reduces the risk of any infection transferring from one patient to another.
  • Plan your payment in a cashless way – credit/debit card or Interac.
  • If you start feeling sick and showing symptoms of COVID-19, get in touch with the dental office immediately. You may have already been asymptomatic positive when you visited the clinic, so there’s a chance somebody else could have been infected too.

Please stay at home if you’re showing any symptoms of COVID-19. Additionally, if you’re feeling ill before a scheduled appointment, call the dentist’s office and discuss your symptoms. The office will be more than happy to reschedule your appointment for another time.

If you’re still feeling wary about visiting the dentist and want to postpone any elective procedures, here’s what you can do –

  • Watch out carefully for your oral health to prevent emergencies. Partake in healthy oral practices like brushing your teeth twice every day and flossing.
  • In case an emergency condition does occur, get in touch with your dentist. They will triage your case and determine what the next step should be. They might be able to assist over the phone before asking to meet in person.
  • Urgent cases like displaced crowns, bridges, etc., or teeth that are infected take precedence over a professional cleaning session. Your dentist will let you know when you should be making your visit a priority.

The key thing to remember is that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) no longer advises postponing elective procedures in dental offices. And with all the extra precautions in place, you’re safe to visit the dentist.

At Rivers Bend Family Dental, we are equipped to not only give you your treatment of choice but also do it with all the ADA recommended precautions. Because patient and staff safety is our topmost priority. We recommend that you continue showing up for your regular oral screenings and preventative therapies. The goal is to avoid any bigger issues from showing up by controlling any small ones that exist. Call our office at 763-576-1855 to book your appointment today.