Dental Care Amidst The Global Pandemic
Except for emergency care dentists, since March, and because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended, dental offices have delayed elective procedures such as dental cleanings, dental bonding, and filling cavities, most dental offices across the country have been shut down.
Dental offices are bouncing back after only 3% of non-emergency dentists in the United States being open in April due to the Coronavirus, says Marko Vujicic, chief economist with the American Dental Association’s (ADA
) Health Policy Institute.
Although about 66% of dental offices are now back open as of May and with 97% of dentists’ offices re-opening in late June, the dental visit patients are used to having is far from ordinary. Added safety precautions are now in place with dentists, dental assistants, and hygienists having to wear extra Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as, face shield, face masks, and full protective aprons which get washed in between patients.
In one client’s office, Dr. Lisa Jo Adornetto
, in Greensboro, North Carolina, has had to spend over $200 extra per week in sterilization washes for her assistants and hygienists PPE. In addition to the extra PPE cost, she has installed a negative pressure room and air purifier systems into her HVAC system to filter out bacteria and viruses that would regularly get blown around.
“It is a small price to pay for protection from the COVID-19 virus and any other pandemic that could become an issue,” stated Dr. Lisa Jo Adornetto, DDS.
How can you help the patient feel comfortable? Here are three ways how.
- Do not allow patients to sit in your waiting room. Take up all magazines, and if you are a pediatric dentist or do pediatric dentistry, then remove all toys, games, and other items that kids may touch. Instead, on your dental website, instruct patients to wait in their cars. Patients understand that this is necessary to prevent spreading the virus.
- By using the ‘COVID-19 Response Form’ provided by the American Dental Association, you can gauge the risk of having patients with symptoms or behaviors that may put staff and other patients at risk. There are two options when having patients fill out this form. First, you can have your front office staff call each patient before their appointment and ask them the questions. Or, secondly, you can have an automated text message sent to each patient with the form link. Upon arrival at your office, the patient can wait in their car and fill out the form and then give your office a call after the form submission (which can get uploaded to the patient’s chart via Dentrix, Eaglesoft or any other reputable Dental Management Software).
- Additional cleaning is a must. Each time a patient or staff member uses the restroom, the entire room should get cleaned with an approved coronavirus cleaning solution. The same should get done for door handles, dental chairs, counter-tops, and card reader machines. Too much cleaning is better than getting a single person sick, so do your part to prevent the spread!