Patient safety has always been a top priority in our office but is now more important than ever in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have always prided ourselves on strictly adhering to all infection control protocols, which include medical-grade sterilization of all instruments after each procedure, complete disinfection of treatment rooms with powerful antimicrobial cleaners between every patient, use of disposable barriers to prevent contamination of anything we touch, and of course our own personal protective equipment (PPE). With the added concerns related to COVID-19, we have taken it upon ourselves to ramp up these processes to meet and exceed the current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to protect our patients, our staff, and ourselves. Though there have been no COVID-19 outbreaks reported from any dental office worldwide, we feel strongly that it is our obligation to take every opportunity to ensure that our office is even safer than it has always been.
There are two main areas where you will notice some differences for the time being: our office safety upgrades and our patient appointment protocols. Because these are changes from our usual routine, we would like to familiarize you with our “new normal” listed below:
Office Safety Upgrades
- All staff members will be screened daily for COVID-19 symptoms by questionnaire and temperature measurement. Any symptomatic staff members will be dismissed until appropriate to return to work according to CDC and OSHA guidelines.
- All staff members will be required to wear a mask at all times in the office and maintain social distancing when possible. You will notice our doctors and clinical staff will be wearing a bit more PPE than you are used to seeing: typically N95 masks, face shields, gowns, and caps.
- In addition to the treatment rooms, all common space surfaces (restrooms, waiting area, reception area) will be wiped down after each patient visit.
- A “sneeze guard” will be present at the front desk to serve as a physical barrier during appointment check out.
- High flow air purifiers will be used in all treatment rooms and the waiting room. These purifiers use self-contained germicidal UV-C light to kill airborne bacterial and viral particles, as well as ultra-high grade High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) and other types of filtration. Though not required, these purifiers will cycle the air in our treatment rooms at least 30 times per hour, over double the industry standard! This is in addition to one similar purifier we’ve already had for many years. We also now have a germicidal UV-C light in our main air conditioning system.
- Cold fogging will be used to further disinfect treatment rooms and the office. This method uses a very safe, but highly effective disinfectant to bring any suspended aerosol down while killing any virus or bacteria in the process. This will be done in treatment rooms after each procedure and periodically throughout the day in common areas.
Patient Appointment Protocol
- All appointments will have the same pre-screening process we use for our staff, which will be conducted via phone/email/text a day prior to any appointments and then repeated upon arrival. This process will include a variety of questions and temperature measurement with a non-contact thermometer. Anyone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 will be rescheduled.
- We kindly ask that you wait in your car and call the office to notify us of your arrival. We will notify you when we are ready for you to enter. The goal of this procedure is to minimize the number of people in our waiting room at any given time.
- We ask that you avoid bringing any companions with you to your appointments unless absolutely necessary. If a companion is required, we request that they wait in the car if possible. If they do need to need to sit in the waiting room, chairs have been rearranged to provide social distancing in case more than one person is present.
- We request that you bring and wear a mask upon entry until you are seated in the treatment room, and then again after completion of treatment until you return to your car. If you do not have a mask available, please let us know, and we can provide you with one.
- All patients will be required to pre-rinse with a disinfecting mouth rinse at the beginning of each appointment. This may be a familiar flavor for many of you, as we are using OraCare for this since it kills viruses and many bacteria on contact!
- We will have hand sanitizer available throughout the office, and we ask that you use it or wash your hands upon entry and prior to leaving.
- We will be providing pens for you to sign screening forms and any other necessary documents. These are yours to keep!
- We are actively monitoring the availability of rapid COVID-19 tests and our ability to administer them. If possible, we hope to incorporate this as an additional service to you and our public health system.
- Due to the expanded infection control protocol, we ask for your patience as appointments may take slightly longer than you are accustomed to. We will be reducing the number of patients seen on a daily basis in an effort to reduce, and hopefully, eliminate, wait times.
- Due to our decreased patient capacity, for the time being, we are experiencing extremely high demand for our available appointment times. As such, we will be collecting deposits when scheduling all appointments. These deposits will be applied towards any non-covered charges or refunded if appropriate. Deposits will be forfeited for cancellations with less than 48-hours notice.
At the end of the day, we want you to feel comfortable and safe in our office and to provide that same security for our team. Rest assured that we are continually monitoring all-new research and recommendations as they become available to ensure we maintain the highest standard of safety amidst this crisis. There is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to COVID-19; however, you can be certain that coming to the dentist is, just as it always has been, safe. We thank you for your understanding during this unprecedented time, as we strive to provide the same level of care to which you’ve become accustomed while maintaining paramount safety for us all.