Dental offices are open again. Here’s why it’s safe (and important) to get back on the schedule and use your dental benefits before they expire.
For a few months, dental offices were advised only to see emergencies and cancel what was considered non-essential dentistry. But we’re open again and, with new safety procedure guidelines from the CDC and ADA on top of our already stringent sterilization procedures, it’s the best time to return to our office and get back on the schedule. In fact, as of the writing of this post, not one case of COVID-19 has been traced to a dental office.
Not only is it safe, but it’s also the perfect time to use any remaining dental benefits before they expire at the end of the year. By scheduling now, you can have your next cleaning and still have time to schedule any restorative treatment you may need using your 2020 benefits. Unlike many things this year, the clock didn’t stop ticking on your insurance.
So, what does a dental visit look like in this post-COVID-19 world? Here are a few of the new safety precautions you may encounter:
- A few days before your appointment, we will ask you some prescreening questions to see if you or anyone in your household has been exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19, or if you or anyone you have been in contact with has experienced a fever or flu-like symptoms within the last several days. You may be asked to sign a COVID-19 patient consent form.
- To limit the number of people in the treatment and reception areas at any one time, please only bring yourself to your appointment. If the appointment is for one of your children, we may ask that they come in by themselves, if possible.
- We may ask you to wait in your car and call our office when you arrive. We will tell you when it’s ok to come in and ask that you wear your mask or face covering while in our reception area.
- Once you are in our office, we will ask the same screening questions again just to be sure nothing has changed. We will take your temperature and the temperature of anyone you bring with you. You may also notice that we have removed magazines, children’s toys, etc. because they are difficult to clean and disinfect.
- After we sit you in the treatment chair, you might notice that we don’t use the ultrasonic scaler, high-volume suction, or the polisher as much as we used to during previous visits. This helps keep small particles, called aerosols, to a minimum. We may also ask you to rinse with a special disinfecting mouthwash before we start your treatment.
- Once your appointment is finished, we may ask for a contactless payment method or ask that you sign any forms electronically.
- Once you leave, we will thoroughly disinfect every surface to prepare for the next patient.
You may be tempted to delay your appointment, but postponing a regular exam, cleaning, or minor treatment can potentially turn a small cavity into a root canal that may result in time out of work and more out-of-pocket expenses.
A cleaning is not just a polish and shine. We perform oral cancer screenings and look for lesions on the gums, cheeks, and tongue. We also check your neck, jaw, and lymph nodes for any swelling, lumps, or other abnormalities. If an abnormality is found, we will refer you to a specialist. These screenings are lifesaving and delaying them could mean the difference between a small biopsy or major surgery. We also check for cavities, abscesses, and signs of periodontal disease.
These temporary changes may sound and look alarming at first, but they are for the safety of our team as well as our patients. From daily staff temperature screenings, face shields, and other forms of PPE to medical-grade HEPA filters, we have done everything we can to make sure each stage of your visit is clean and safe for all of us, and we can’t wait to see you back in our office!