This month, dental practices began implementing new strategies for patient protection, subsequent to the recent COVID-19 Pandemic. On June 1, 2020 Governor Phil Scott announced the beginning of Vermont’s “slow start” back to a “new normal”.
How will the delivery of dental care change? And, what can patients expect from their dental care providers?
A Slow Start After COVID-19
In March, sickness and death totaling millions were projected across the U.S. due to the virus’s lethality and rapid spread. Fortunately, estimates did not account for massive citizen participation to contain and stop the contagion. However, as the nature of SARS-CoV-2 virus became known, thoughts of a quick end to the pandemic diminished. A slow reentry back to active life is expected for citizens and businesses, including dentistry. Why?
The virus posed extreme hazard to segments of the population including the elderly, some children and individuals with immune systems already compromised. Besides, medicine still does not yet have a viable vaccine to thwart the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Consequently, very specific safety guidances for dental practices are recommended by Vermont Department of Health and other Federal agencies.
Your dental practice is not going back to “business as usual”.
New guidelines target aerosol control, splatter and surface contamination to reduce risk of viral infection to patients. Protocols similarly protect the dental practitioner and office personnel. Everyone wins when safe care is the priority!
Patient Safety Post COVID-19
What specific action has Implant and General Dentistry of Vermont taken?
- Screening- Symptom history and testing will become more important when appointing at Implant and General Dentistry of Vermont. Non-touch thermometers can easily detect fever. Individuals suspected to be ill, will kindly be asked to reschedule their appointment to a time when potential risk to others is lower.
- Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)- Our garb is changed providing more protection for all parties. N95s, double masking, face shields and appropriate eye protection provide multiple layers of safety.
- Air Purification- “Beyond” ActivePure Technology, used by NASA on the International Space Station, is now in place to filter and kill a variety of organic matter including airborne viral particles, bacteria, fungi, pollen and others.
- Additional High Speed Suction HVAC/HEPA- Secondary chair-side suction system minimize aerosols during treatment to near zero.
- Disinfection Sterilization Plus- Surface disinfectants we use on cabinets and furniture and instrument sterilization has been state of the art. There is no indication yet that an upgrade to stricter standards is required for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Learning From COVID-19
Personal responsibility for one’s own health has never been more important than today. Taking step towards optimal health makes sense whether preventing COVID-19 infection or preventing dental disease. Let’s look more closely.
Dental Care During the Pandemic: It has been difficult to secure timely emergency care for patients in the midst of this pandemic. In a few cases, the treatment outcomes were less desirable; teeth were lost, others indicated for extensive “root canal” treatment to save them. Preventing the conditions that led to the anxiety, pain and economic disruption could have been taken if prioritized.
Lesson from COVID: It was incredibly gratifying to see the public take preventive steps and action to mitigate viral infection risk! For once, prevention in medicine, made sense to the public. Preventing infection was a better alternative to the consequences of getting SARS-CoV-2, severe sickness and even death!
What’s the Parallel: Be proactive with your oral health. Prevention first. You are not going to risk death as you would with COVID-19 virus. But, if you don’t prevent oral infection, you will lose your teeth!
When it comes to health, consider what is optimal. Don’t risk. Don’t procrastinate. By the time you’ve got symptoms, it’s always tougher. A little thoughtful planning and timely treatment avoids chaotic disruptions to life’s flow, reduces risk for more complex and costly care.
Get healthy. Stay healthy. Practice the best personal care you can.
Thank you, public and medical leaders for encouragement to follow simple common sense personal safety practices. We thank our first responders, Rutland Regional Medical Center, doctors and nurses for doing their best for those stricken and in need. And, thank you family, friends, neighbors and fellow citizens for your understanding and support.
Indeed we have been in this together. Blessings must be upon us since the prospects are looking positive that we are finally emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the past few months, Italy was devastated by COVID-19, less prepared than the U.S. Suffering? Yes, but I love the spirit of their words that have stuck in my mind since hearing them a few weeks back. On the lips of many, “Andra tuto bene!” Everything will be OK!
Stay positive. Stay healthy. See you out and about or in the office soon!