COVID-19 has brought about various changes in the way people live, do business, and even get medical or dental care. However, because poor oral health leads to a higher risk of severe COVID-19 cases, taking care of your teeth and gums is more crucial than ever.
We understand that the most pressing concern is if it’s safe for you to go to the dentist during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the advice of the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) and Ontario Dental Association (ODA), a set of guidelines for dental visits during COVID-19 was established. Clinics are permitted to operate so long as they strictly adhere to these policies. All these protocols have been established to make it safe for you and the dental staff.
COVID-19 Dental Care Settings
Under the COVID-19 dental practice safety guidance of the CDA and ODA, dental clinics have to avoid the risk of transmission by:
- Pre-screening or interview
Patients need to undergo an interview to screen for COVID-19 symptoms before an appointment and during the visit. This can be done virtually, in the patient’s vehicle, or in the waiting room. The patient’s temperature is taken upon their arrival at the clinic. Patients are advised to come alone. However, for patients that need assistance, like children and the elderly, their companion needs to undergo the pre-screening as well. In addition, the dental staff is subjected to daily screenings.
- Layout to accommodate social distancing
To comply with social distancing measures, clinics have modified the layout of high-traffic areas like the lobby and waiting room. Some offices have done away with the use of waiting rooms altogether and let patients wait inside their cars in the parking lot until they are called in for their appointment.
- Issuing and using PPE
All staff and personnel need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) inside the clinic. If procedures require the use of AGMPs, the dental staff need to wear N95 respirator masks instead of surgical masks.
- Four-handed dentistry
Four-handed dentistry requires the dentist to work with a dental assistant to reduce the time needed for the procedure. This practice is similar to medical procedures where nurses assist with preparations and instrument handling so doctors can focus solely on the treatment.
- Mouth rinsing
Dentists use pre-procedural antiseptic mouth rinses before a procedure to lessen the contaminants that can be aerosolized.
- Prioritizing the use of manual instruments
Some dental procedures can produce liquid particles in the air or aerosols. These procedures are categorized as aerosol generating medical procedures (AGMP). To avoid or minimize the risk, dental offices are advised to avoid using AGMPs as much as possible and use manual instruments instead.
- Use of dental dam when possible
A dental dam (or a rubber dam) is used to minimize blood and saliva contamination in the procedure area. Dental dams can effectively contain the spread of pathogens that may be carried by previous patients. With the exception of certain procedures like surgical extraction, root planning, and the final stages of crown preparation, using dental dams is a must.
- Use of high volume evacuators
A high volume evacuator (HVE) is a suction device that can reduce the release of aerosols due to its capacity to draw in large amounts of air. Its use is recommended in dental care settings because of its efficiency in removing potentially contaminated aerosols.
- Optimizing HVAC systems
Dental offices should maximize the use of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to increase airflow and ventilation. This improves the outdoor air exchange, preventing the recirculation of contaminated air. In addition, a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration unit can trap certain pathogens. Installing one in the procedure area can further augment safety standards.
- Office cleaning and disinfection
Before and after every patient visit, the procedure area needs to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. The clinic also establishes a waiting period before the next patient is permitted inside. This can give the HVAC system sufficient time to fully remove potentially contaminated aerosol from the area.
- Other Measures
Other measures like cashless payments and hand sanitizing with an alcohol-based sanitizer before touching doorknobs or pens must strictly be observed in clinics. The types of dental procedures performed during COVID-19 are at the dentist’s discretion. Ask your dentist to determine whether or not they can offer you certain services. Walk-in patients are no longer allowed. Patients are admitted strictly by appointment only.
With the health community’s guidance, dental practices are prepared for COVID-19. Following these measures allows dental clinics to safeguard the health and well-being of each staff and patient. It is perfectly safe for you to visit Lambton Family Dental, as this dental practice adheres to the RCDSO COVID-19 guidelines.
Rising Need for Dental Care During CoVID-19
The stress of isolation and the constant lockdowns have increased the occurrence of certain habits like binge eating and improper dental and overall hygiene. Unfortunately, these bad habits can damage the teeth, especially if the tendency is to binge on food loaded with carbohydrates and sugar. In addition, many have become averse to visiting their dentist because of health and safety concerns.
However, you shouldn’t think twice about going to the dentist since they have upgraded their protocols to adapt to the new normal. Keep in mind that delaying or neglecting dental care can do more harm than good. Dental problems can worsen over time and can even put you at higher risk of severe COVID-19 complications.
Consult your dentist and let them decide if you need to visit the clinic or not.
Tips to Take Care of the Teeth
- Brush your teeth – Brush your teeth twice a day, once in the morning and once before you go to bed at night.
- Floss – Flossing allows you to clean the areas a toothbrush can’t reach.
- Exercise – Instead of binge eating to handle stress, you can exercise instead. Regular exercise is also beneficial to your heart, lungs, muscles, and immune function, so you can easily fight off diseases.
- Eat right – Eating a diet rich in vitamins can help the teeth and gums stay healthy. Lessen snacking especially on junk foods. If you want something to chew on, opt for sugarless gum. This can curb the need to eat unhealthy food while stimulating saliva production to keep dry mouth at bay.
- Hydrate – A dry mouth not only results in bad breath but is bad for your teeth and gums as well.
To better care for your oral health, see your dentist regularly. The health of your teeth and gums is more important than ever. Visit the Lambton Family Dental team in Sarnia. We adhere to the strictest COVID-19 protocols to keep our patients safe. Call us now at (519) 344-5747 for an appointment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.