August 1, 2020
Are you preparing for an upcoming dental appointment? Now that offices are reopening throughout the United States, you may be wondering if it is safe to return. During this difficult time, your dentist has been hard at work to re-evaluate the daily operations of their practice as well as implement various guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA), and the American Dental Association (ADA). Before you arrive, learn how dental safety during COVID-19 has changed and what your dentist is doing to prepare for your visit.
What Dental Safety Measures Are in Place?
A dentist’s office doesn’t just magically clean itself. It takes a lot of hard work and time on the part of a dental team. Under normal circumstances, certain standards are set when it comes to sanitizing and disinfecting instruments, equipment, and surfaces. However, dentists and their staff are ramping up their efforts to ensure everyone is better protected against the potential threat of COVID-19.
Here are just a few things your dentist is doing to keep you safe:
- Designating a Safety Champion: While this may not mean much to the average person, this term is most often used in the construction industry to ensure everyone is taking responsibility for their actions. In dentistry, your dentist may select a new staff member each day to ensure everyone is doing their part to follow guidelines and implement health and safety measures.
- Performing Daily Health Checks of Staff: You want your dental team to be virus-free, right? Fortunately, your dentist will be checking the temperatures of all staff when arriving at work to ensure no one is presenting symptoms of COVID-19.
- Advanced Staff Training: Your dentist isn’t the only person who should know the new protocols. You can expect staff to undergo advanced training to better understand how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and better protect everyone who visits the office.
- Changing Clothes at Work: In the past, you may have seen your dental hygienist wearing their scrubs while shopping for groceries; however, because of COVID-19, your dentist is requiring all staff to change into and out of their work clothes while at the office. This is to prevent the potential spread of harmful bacteria to others.
- Ensuring Proper Social Distancing Guidelines Are Met: From having patients wait in their vehicles to removing reading materials and play areas in the lobby, you can expect there to be certain measures in place to keep everyone at a safe distance from each other.
The Role You Can Play
Now that you know just a few of the many steps your dentist is taking to ensure a healthy environment for patients and staff, you may be asking, “What can I do?” Here are a few tips:
- Reschedule your appointment if you feel sick or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
- Make sure to wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds
- Wear a face mask when going out in public and especially to your dentist’s appointment
- Understand and practice the safety protocols your dentist has implemented
- Brush, floss, and rinse your mouth regularly to avoid bacterial infections that can weaken the immune system and make you more vulnerable to COVID-19
While no one knows how long these additional guidelines will be necessary, you can trust that your dentist will safeguard your health during your visit.
About the Author
Dr. Robert Christensen is a Midland, TX, native who completed his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from The University of Texas Health Science Center Houston Dental School in 1978. Like many dentists throughout the United States, he and his team are committed to ensuring your health and safety during your visit. He has implemented new protocols to keep both staff and patients better protected from harmful bacteria and viruses, and he is going above and beyond to maintain proper social distancing guidelines during this time. If you need to schedule an appointment and would like to know more about the steps Dr. Christensen is taking, visit our website or call (432) 684-7424.
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