Dentistry is categorized as being a high risk for COVID-19 transmission. Reason being, the main channels of infection are relevant to most procedures performed daily in dental offices, with aerosols being the ardently debated topic.
Without doubt, we will not be returning to normalcy soon, so dentists must quickly consider how they can further protect themselves, patients, and staff, from this unprecedented outbreak.
We have created a handout for internal use for dental practices that outlines brief but crucial information on COVID-19 precautions protocol. You can freely download, print, and place this handbook in strategic places throughout the office to keep your staff and patients informed.
What to expect in this free handout?
How to conduct patient screening
Screening starts by contacting patients with upcoming appointments and finding out if they have:
- A fever or have experienced a fever in recent days (past 14 days)
- Experienced a recent onset of respiratory issues, such as difficulty in breathing or cough
- Come into contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19 infection within the past 14 days.
- Recently visited severely impacted areas.
After the screening questionnaire:
- If the patient replied affirmatively to any of those questions, postpone the appointment until they have fully recovered.
Practice environment measures
For the foreseeable future, we are unlikely to see a waiting lobby full of patients. Many practices are urging patients to remain in their cars instead of waiting in the reception areas. And upon being called to the office premises by the receptionist, they are asked to sanitize their hands with alcohol-based sanitizers and then escorted to see the dentist.
Additionally, to implement the social distancing guidelines further, practices are offering flexible time span for appointments with adjustment to the dentist or hygienist’s diaries. Some dental employees are even required to come to work in shifts, as opposed to a continuous working pattern.
Practicing hand hygiene in dental office premises
All dental staff must maintain good hand hygiene before and after gloving. Washing should be conducted in a designated clean sink. Once gloved, dental practitioners should limit their contact only to the patient and sterilized tools. Dental practitioners should also be aware of different non-touch techniques, such as elbow opening of drawers, to restrict contact between hands and surfaces.
Sterilization of tools
All reusable dental tools and instruments should be carefully sterilized using pressure and steam. Usually, this has proven to be the most reliable sterilization method currently, eclipsing UV and alcohol in terms of effectiveness.
Type of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to wear
The ADA advises dental professionals to wear a range of PPEs, including masks, respirators, eye protection, gloves, footwear, and protective wear, such as disposable gowns.
We have also compiled a brief overview of the current state of COVID-19 globally.
Get to know about the common symptoms of the COVID-19.
The COVID-19 virus can cause an array of symptoms, ranging from mild complaints to pneumonia. Common symptoms of the pandemic are cough, sore throat, headaches, and fever. In acute cases, difficulty in breathing can occur.
Who is at risk of getting infected with COVID-19?
Presently, those at highest risk of COVID-19 infection are individuals who have recently been to cities with sustained transmission, or who have had extended, unprotected close contact with a symptomatic or positive person.
The world has changed irretrievably, and every dental professional or healthcare worker will have to protect their patients and staff. As you will see from the handout, the following measures can never be emphasized enough:
- Careful patient screening
- Alteration of patient appointment time
- Reception screening and social distancing measures
- Enhanced PPE use
- Robust hand cleaning procedures
- Disinfection of surfaces
Get the free COVID-19 handout here!