OCT 25, 2020 POSTED BY: ATUL SHASTRY
Going to the dentist is a scary experience for some of us. The idea of someone scraping at the most intimate parts of our body can be frightening to some and discomforting to others. When you add in the stresses of the pandemic in a non socially distanced environment, those anxieties seem to multiply ten fold. Today, I’ll be discussing what it’s like to visit the dentist, and discussing what’s changed and how you can prepare yourself for your next check up!
What You Can Do Ahead of Time:
Plan Your Check Up in Advance: Asking for the dental office’s opinion on when they see less patients is beneficial. Planning your check-up appointment to fall around those times will be helpful. The more you can limit your exposure to others, the safer it’ll be. Additionally, calling your dentist’s office to determine what types of COVID protocols they’re implementing is a great idea to better prepare yourself. Some offices are limiting the number of people allowed in the waiting area.
Wear a Mask and Bring Hand Sanitizer: I know this seems obvious, but the fact of the matter is only 67% of Americans are actually wearing a mask. Bringing hand sanitizer is also a good idea, as you’ll be around surfaces that are touched by others.
When I got to my dentist’s office, I was greeted by a hygienist and a receptionist that were wearing two layers of masks as well as PPE. I was asked a few screening questions to evaluate my wellness, including:
- Had I been around anyone who was showing symptoms or had tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days?
- Had I experienced any symptoms in the last 14 days (cough, fever, aches, out of breath)?
- Had I tested positive in the last 14 days — even with no symptoms?
Since, I was able to answer “No” to these questions, I was able to proceed. However, at AutoBrush, we recommend not visiting the dentist at all if you are able to answer “Yes” to any of these questions.
Sitting in the Chair
The hygienist that helped clean my teeth was wearing a medical gown with an N95 mask, covered with a surgical mask and a protective face shield. This made sense, as hygienists typically work with pneumatic and hydro tools that cause particulates to become airborne. My dentist came in, wearing a respirator mask to double check the work of her hygienist.
There were a few key differences during my cleaning that I wanted to call out:
- Manual Tools (such as scrapers) were used in lieu of power tools to scrape plaque. This precaution was to ensure to limit the amount of aerosol particulates that arise with the use of power tools
My hygienist also noted that if they do find anything that required the use of power tools (such as fillings, grooves etc..), they’d reschedule me for a later date. Additionally, she filled me in on how they’re disposing of PPE. Each cleaning session required a fresh set of PPE gowns, a new surgical mask with new gloves. She also noted that the staff washes their hands an average of 100 times a day and she changes out her PPE almost 16 times a day. I felt incredibly safe knowing that our dental professionals were going to such great lengths to ensure that their patients and their staff remained safe.
Leaving the Office:
As I left the office, I placed my mask back on scheduling my next appointment. I wanted to ask more questions from the receptionist who was very nice and she filled me in on the situation. Her emotions mirrored relief as she noted she was happy to be back at work, treating patients even if it was in a limited capacity. They noted that they’re doing everything they can to ensure that their patients remain safe and strictly following guidelines handed down by the ADA and CDC. This made me pause and really start to reflect on how much I really appreciate all of the dental professionals who are doing everything they can to care for their patients in this looming pandemic. Thank you to all of the dental professionals that help us have cleaner teeth.