The government finally released the guidelines for dental care providers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, you still need to consult the state dental board departments to stay current on the requirements required in your state. The requirements will continue to vary as the infection continues to affect people differently throughout the country.
The risk associated with dealing with a patient during this pandemic is directly linked with aerosols produced during the treatment procedures. The CDC urges dentists to continue wearing masks as these surgical masks protect one from droplet spatter. However, masks don’t protect the user from inhaling infectious agents.
Screening and Patient Management
The CDC recommends screening for fever as well as symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of the level of spread in your area. If your area has minimum cases of COVID-19, and a patient doesn’t show symptoms of COVID-19, you can just adhere to standard precautions. However, given that most patients are asymptomatic, it is strongly advised to be more vigilant. Here is the protocol that you should try to adhere to are given below.
Contact the patient prior to the appointment. If the patient does have symptoms of COVID-19, then reschedule the appointment. If he is okay, encourage him/her to limit the number of persons he comes with and wear a face mask on the appointment day. It also gives you a chance to psychologically prepare the patient for slight changes such as routine temperature checks. This action helps minimize confusion on the day of the appointment.
The patient should be screened with a questionnaire, and any patient that passes it may be provided with dental care. The patient should wear a face mask on his way out. If a patient develops symptoms within 14 days of the appointment, advise him/her to contact the facility.
Taking additional steps to ensure your staff is safe is simple. Occasionally, remind them of how to limit the spread of the infection. The CDC suggests providing them with posters with information about proper hand hygiene and social distancing.
Also, it recommends using sanitizers with 60-90 percent of alcohol in areas such as waiting rooms, check-in areas, and entrances. Finally, minimize the number of individuals in the waiting rooms. This can be done by having your patients remain in their cars or staggering their appointment times.
Continue all your routine cleanings and maintenance according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Also, be sure to sterilize and test them using a biological indicator before using them.
If possible, limit your clinical treatments to one patient at a time. The CDC also recommends that you should try to avoid aerosol-producing procedures as much as possible. Prioritize on treatments that are less invasive and ones that can be done with hand instruments only.
If you have to perform an aerosol-producing procedure, use high volume evacuation, four-handed dentistry, and dental dams to reduce the aerosols produced.
The CDC also recommends the use of preprocedural mouth rinses with an antimicrobial product. However, no evidence shows the effectiveness of pre-procedural rinse in reducing the load of the coronavirus, causing COVID-19.
The CDC recommends ventilation systems, controlled patient volume, and strategic patient placement.
Personal Protective Equipment
The CDC clearly states that a dental care provider should have the appropriate PPE. If the PPEs are limited, then the most vulnerable patients should have them first. The PPEs should be cleaned and decontaminated between uses.
The PPEs recommended include a surgical mask, protective eyewear, and protective clothing. If surgical masks and a face shield are not available, the CDC suggests that you should not perform an aerosol-producing procedure.
Cabrera Dental Associates
We understand that these changes will take most of us time to get used to them, but they are for our own good. We have vowed to follow the guidelines to the letter to ensure that none of our patients or staff’s life is put at risk.
You can book an appointment with us with any dental procedure if you require a dentist in Houston. We are also here for you if you need an emergency dentist in Houston. We will provide you with high-quality services and adhere to the guidelines provided by the CDC. Let us help you if you are looking for dentistry in Houston, TX. Book an appointment now.