Visiting the Dentist in the New Normal
Many of us could not visit the dentist during the lockdown; and even now, some of us are confused about the new regulations required during a dental visit. To clarify, Dr.Danavanthi Bangera, Medical Director and Dental Surgeon, reveals the facts behind visiting the dentist during the new normal.
In this pandemic, Dr. Bangera tells that dentists and other medical professionals have a collective responsibility to monitor safety and assure the protection of their community, their patients, and dental healthcare workers, as well as to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission. She elaborates, “We have implemented the standards of infection prevention and control (IPC) and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) measures during dental consultations and treatment procedures as recommended by CDC (Center for Disease Prevention and Control) and the MOH.”
Specific safety procedures
According to Dr. Bangera, they practice four handed dentistry, use pre-procedural mouth rinses, and make use of intra-oral and extra-oral vacuum suction during dental procedures that reduce the risk of transmission of virus to minimal. “We observe social distancing measures all the time as well as appropriate sequencing and appointment scheduling of the patients,” she explains. “We use a variety of acceptable techniques for dental consultations, use appropriate infection control measures for both Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGP) and non-Aerosol Generating Procedures (non-AGP), and deliver best quality oral health care outcomes.”
Dispelling the fear
Dental fear, points out Dr. Bangera, is no secret—going to the dentist elicits feelings of fear and anxiety among the general population and add to that, the fear of contracting potentially deadly Coronavirus. She explains, “We assure our patients that in this COVID -19 era; we’re committed to maintaining the highest standard of infection control, sanitization, and accessibility to PPEs (Personal Protective Equipments). We are strictly compliant to guidelines, rules, and regulations imposed by the Ministry of Health while practicing dentistry.” She further advises to not compromise the oral health of your and your family members due to the fear of COVID-19, have regular dental check-ups, and get the necessary dental treatments done at the right time.
Specific dental treatments
As per the updated MOH guidelines, Dr. Bangera stresses that there is no restriction in any of the dental procedures; all dental procedures can be carried out with standard infection prevention and control measures. “As per the CDC (Center for Disease Prevention and Control), we have developed a framework for healthcare personnel and healthcare systems for delivery of both emergency and non-emergency dental care during the COVID-19 pandemic,” she says. Some of these include: screening and triaging of everyone entering the facility and adhering to sanitization and hand hygiene practices while in the healthcare facility. Also, posting signage boards at the entrance and in strategic places, including waiting areas, elevators, and cafeterias to provide instructions (in appropriate languages) about wearing a cloth face covering or facemask for source control, and how and when to perform hand hygiene and cough etiquettes.
Others include following social distancing measures all the time, using appropriate PPEs such as gown, respirator mask, face shields during consultations and dental procedures; and following meticulous cleaning, disinfection, and cross infection control measures between each patient.
General Precautions to Follow While Visiting the Dentist During the Pandemic
We encourage you to book an appointment before visiting the dental hospital to ensure appropriate scheduling between each patient.
Scheduling appointments helps to minimize the number of people in the waiting room.
We advise patients to avoid their visit to the facility and reschedule their appointment in case if sick or suspected symptoms are present.
Patients should limit visitors to the facility to those essential for the patient’s physical or emotional wellbeing and care (e.g., care partner, parent).
Patients and visitors should, ideally, wear their own facemask covering (if tolerated) upon arrival to and throughout their stay in the facility.
Patients may remove their facemask covering when in the patient care area, but should put on a new facemask when leaving at the end of the dental treatment.
Patients and visitors should follow hand hygiene practices all throughout while in the facility.