As a small business owner, navigating uncharted territory after COVID-19 hit was very difficult. After a long journey to safely treating patients again, I’m sharing some best practices for patients to consider when making their next appointment.
1) Avoid the waiting game. Circumventing routine cleanings or fillings and crowns today could result in additional emergencies that may imperil a patient’s total health and/or the salvageability of your teeth later. Know that there are dental offices welcoming you with open arms, and that have poured resources into doing so safely.
2) Ask about check-in procedures. Avoid crowded waiting rooms and ask your practitioner what check-in procedures they have implemented. At our office, patients call when they arrive and stay in their car until the treatment room is sanitized and ready. Masks need to be worn while entering and exiting.
3) Ask about air quality. Droplets and aerosols are present during nearly all dental procedures. Air scrubbers can help filter droplets and aerosols left behind by the virus thus curtailing spread. Our office chose a HEPA system that cleans the air 12x per hour and creates negative air pressure (similar to operating rooms in a hospital) to prevent cross-contamination between rooms. We also have zip wall zip doors to enter and UV Resources Hornet UV Fixture in our A/C and heating ducts and halcyon ceiling air filters. Finally, we are using an ultrasonic dental cleaning tool, a new high volume evacuator will be used which decreases aerosols by 93%.
4) Ask about surfaces. Many practices have increased cleaning protocols. In addition to regularly treating surfaces, we have also installed a Fog Electric Atomizer Sprayer to sanitize all office areas.
5) Ask about PPE. All practitioners should be wearing face shields, N-95 masks, washable full length gowns and gloves. Our office purchased a washer and dryer so we can clean our garments daily.
6) Ask about any other sanitization protocols — and what it might cost you. Some offices may have to pass certain costs along to patients. A good practice will be transparent about this.
7) Check your temperature. We can’t say it enough: don’t leave the house if you have a fever, regardless of whether you’re a practitioner, staff, or patient. We request to take each patient’s temperature in a non-invasive way upon arrival.
Together, and with precautions, we can continue to fight the spread of this virus AND continue to take care of our health. We hope to see you and your wonderful smiles soon. Until then, stay safe and healthy.
Dr. Marc Herman has been serving patients in the community with advanced dentistry for over 38 years. He consulted with a board-certified Cardiac Anesthesiologist specializing in cardiothoracic surgery (heart and lungs) treating those affected by COVID-19 on the front lines prior to reopening. His office remodel and upgrades are now considered a best practice and exceed CDC, AMA and ADA guidelines. He recently presented his reopening journey to more than 160 dentists North Shore University Hospital-Long Island Jewish Medical Center where he teaches every Thursday.