Safety and Best Practices About Returning to your Dentist During the Pandemic
Visiting the dentist may seem daunting and unfamiliar in the face of the global pandemic. Routine dentistry and general checkups may have been stalled or pushed off completely for over a year now. Safety concerns are still apparent but as reopenings start taking effect and new standard operating procedures are implemented you may start to think about visiting the dentist again and when you do we hope this guide will help you navigate new circumstances and how to stay healthy and safe while visiting the dentist. This advice applies to both the patient and the dentist’s office in most cases and should be observed by all parties involved.
Scheduling Your Appointment in Advance
This section applies more heavily to the patient. If time and availability permit, you should schedule your appointment for early appointments (the first appointment as soon as the office opens ensures that you are the first patient in the chair that day). If morning appointments are not possible in your dentist’s schedule or your own then the next best solution is scheduling an appointment for non-peak operating hours (go when the office is the least busy). Visiting the dentist during lull periods will decrease your exposure to other people while in the office.
Asking Your Dentist About Their Safety Practices Against COVID-19
Whether you ask your dentist or their staff while scheduling your appointment or when you call in before your visit for general information (with an appointment in mind or not you may call for information at any time for most dentist offices). The safety practices will range from required PPE for all personnel and face-coverings for all visitors, hand sanitizers at the door, temperature checks, HEPA air-purifiers, and various other mechanisms based on the individual office. If you ask the office they will completely understand and will be able to illuminate what to expect while in the office.
Take Steps Before and During Your Appointment
The office will have its own internal policies for health checks and staff policies. The dentist office staff are aware that patient safety and their own safety during the COVID-19 pandemic requires transparency and personal responsibility. If you feel sick or have COVID-19 symptoms before your appointment time, cancel and stay home, the dentist and their staff should do the same. Everyone visiting or working at the dentist’s office should sterilize their hands before entering the building and the surface should be cleaned and sterilized periodically.
Resistance to Visiting the Dentist
Returning to your dentist after a prolonged and perhaps strained duration may feel awkward, to say the least or potentially threatening to the abject viewpoint. This is understandable given the time that has transpired between visits and the events that have occurred in-between. Anxiety is one of the main reasons why people do not visit their dentist (you may read our blog on dental anxiety for more facts). Resistance under current conditions may be a direct response to the COVID-19 and its variants. In response to current conditions, the CDC has issued recommendations for attending to routine dental care. Namely; suspending elective procedures, implementation of teledentistry, screen all patients for COVID-19 before or at the being of their visit, triage patient care, implement paid or non-punitive sick leave policies in advance of potential occurrences, provide testing facilities or access to local testing facilities, secure a PPE source and supply control, enable and observe social distancing inside the office, establish healthy and frequent sterilization of surfaces, and remember to wash your hands and wear protective equipment while in the office and outside of work.
Resistances to visiting or even calling your dentist due to the prevalence of COVID-19 is preventing large percentages of people from visiting the dentist and if patients and dentists do not work together to create safe and healthy reopenings and practices to enable routine dentistry and urgent dentistry, issues related to oral hygiene will arise and become a source of further resistance to the dentist for years to come. As we explored in our previous blog, dental anxiety often develops due to an actual dental condition that makes the person avoid the dentist, and therefore ignore the dental ailment entirely.
Dental Health Care Personnel (DHCP) were among the first groups to be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccinations as the vaccine rollout started, and according to a survey conducted by the American Dental Association (ADA) 64% of dentists reported that it is extremely important to get vaccinated and another 20% reported that it is very important to get vaccinated. And another survey conducted by the California Dental Association (CDA) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reported that 94% of dentists in California are vaccinated as of July 06, 2021 according to their online survey. The vast majority of dentists have emphasized the importance of COVID-9 safety practices for themselves, their offices, and their patients.
In conclusion, yes, you may visit your dentist permitted you are following and your dentist is following best practices in terms of safety and prevention. Ask your dentist to elaborate on their COVID-19 prevention policies before visiting, wear face coverings, sanitize your hands before and after visiting, and most importantly stay home if you have symptoms. If you are located in northern California and are looking for a reliable dentist office that is adhering to stringent safety policies and requirements or has questions regarding general or specialized dentistry or if a routine checkup is necessary for you, reach out to Tara Hills Dental today to learn more about revisiting the dentist after a series of postponements.
If you are in or around the Pinole area and require a local Pinole dentist, check out Tara Hills Dental today.