COVID-19 has changed so much about the way that we interact and act with one another. But even during a pandemic, dental care remains essential.
There has been a lot of discussion about the best way for people to get the care they need during these unprecedented times. Some people are opting to only go to the dentist when there is an emergency like extreme pain from an infection or trauma. However, the fact is, dental checkups, cleanings, and routine care are important for maintaining your oral health.
Neglecting your oral hygiene can have serious consequences, so dental care should not be delayed. The good news is that there are steps that you can take as a patient to stay safe and get dental work done during the pandemic.
Understand How the Virus is Spread
By now, most of us are aware of how the virus is spread, but there are a few other things you should know about keeping yourself and others around you safe.
COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets whenever a person infected with the virus coughs or sneezes. The droplets are pushed through the air and others nearby can get sick when they breathe in these particles. Since the virus is present in mucus and saliva contained within the mouth, throat, and respiratory tract, the CDC recommends wearing two masks to filter out droplets that may be present in the air you breathe.
Do Your Homework
It is perfectly reasonable to have concerns about going to the dentist during the pandemic, but it is possible to get the care you need and do it safely. Before scheduling your appointment with your dental clinic in San Diego, make sure that you call the office or visit the website to understand what dental safety protocols are in place to keep you safe during your visit.
Make sure that you understand what the policies are regarding:
Requirements for Mask-wearing by Staff and Visitors
Currently, the CDC recommends that people wear at least two masks, which can help filter out up to 95% of virus particles.
Social Distancing Practices During Your Visit
Note that you may be asked to remain at least six feet apart from others at check-in, in waiting areas, and in exam rooms.
Screening Questions and Temperature Checks
All patients and staff who enter the facility need to be screened. If you are not feeling well, you should reschedule your appointment for a later date and visit your primary care physician as soon as possible if you have symptoms of COVID-19.
Limits on the Number of People Allowed in the Clinic
Dental safety protocols may include restricting how many patients can schedule appointments during certain timeframes.
Cleaning and sanitizing protocols
Make sure that you work with a dental office that implements strict cleaning and sanitizing measures for waiting rooms, exam rooms, elevators, and any other frequently touched surfaces.
Before Your Scheduled Appointment
Before the day of your appointment, you will likely get a call 24 hours beforehand confirming your appointment time. As part of the new dental safety measures implemented by the clinic, you may be asked if you have symptoms of COVID-19, which may include fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc. If you have any of these symptoms, you may be asked to visit a primary health care provider to confirm that you do not have coronavirus. Your dental appointment will need to be rescheduled for a later date.
If your appointment is confirmed, the staff person may request that you bring and wear a mask during your appointment. You should note that there may also be restrictions in place around the number of people allowed to accompany you to your visit.
If you have any questions about dental safety procedures, be sure to ask them at this time. For example, you may want to ask about telehealth options or if the dental office can send your bill electronically or by mail. These service offerings are super convenient and should help limit your exposure to germs and viruses.
During Your Appointment
While you check-in and wait to be seen by the dentist, you should follow these standard safety precautions:
Wear Two Face Masks
Most facilities now require people to wear at least one face mask to be serviced. The CDC recommends wearing at least two masks to enhance effectiveness. If you do not have a mask, your dental office may be able to provide one to you.
Keep Your Hands Washed
Be sure to wash your hands before and after touching elevator buttons, door handles, and other surfaces in the waiting area. Clean your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Refrain From Touching Your Face
This includes keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Cover Your Nose and Mouth When You Cough or Sneeze
If you have to sneeze or cough, be sure to cover your nose and mouth using a tissue or your elbow. Be sure to dispose of the tissue immediately.
Keep Your Distance
Do your best to stay at least six feet away from others during your visit. The dentist’s office will likely have signs or markers on the floors to indicate how far apart your should stand. If there are too many people gathered in one area, you should move to another spot until you are called.
Avoid Contact with Frequently Touched Surfaces
Use a tissue or gloves to open doors or touch keypads, etc. If you can’t avoid touching these surfaces, wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer.
RB Dental Excellence is a top dental clinic in San Diego. At our practice, dental safety and your oral health are our top priorities. Contact us today to schedule your appointment and keep your smile bright and healthy.