How Dental Practitioners Are Protecting Their Patients (and Themselves)

Source: Dr A Torres

Infection control is a top priority for any medical practitioner – especially dental, where the doctor and his assistant work very close to a patient’s open mouth.

Dental offices follow infection control recommendations made by the American Dental Association (ADA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

You may see some changes when it is time for your next appointment.

SUN News spoke to Dr Andres Torres, a Ventura County dentist and prosthodontist who gave us some of their practices to keep themselves and their patients safe.

“Our office will communicate with you beforehand to ask some screening questions. You’ll be asked those same questions again when you are in the office.

We have hand sanitizer that we will ask you to use when you enter the office. You will also find some in the reception area and other places in the office for you to use as needed.

You may see that our waiting room will no longer offer magazines, children’s toys, etc, since those items are difficult to clean and disinfect.

Appointments will be managed to allow for social distancing between patients. That might mean that you’re offered fewer options for scheduling your appointment.

We will do our best to allow greater time between patients to reduce waiting times for you, as well as to reduce the number of patients in the reception area at any one time.”

Further, the ADA has these recommendations for dental practices:

  • Include temperature readings as part of routine assessment of the patient prior to performing dental procedures;
  • Make sure the personal protective equipment being used is appropriate for the procedures performed;
  • Use a rubber dam whenever possible to decrease possible exposure to infectious agents;
  • Use high-speed evacuation for all dental procedures producing an aerosol;
  • Autoclave handpieces after each patient;
  • Have patients rinse with 1.5 percent hydrogen peroxide before each appointment. (COVID-19 is vulnerable to oxidation; this will reduce the salivary load of oral microbes.);
  • Clean and disinfect public areas frequently, including door handles, chairs, counters, and bathrooms. Remove magazines, reading materials, toys, and other items that are not easily disinfected after being touched; and
  • Review the “ADA Interim Guidance for Minimizing Risk of COVID-19 Transmission.” (Updated 4/1/20).

The focus primarily is on caring for patients experiencing dental emergencies, so dental emergencies do not add to already volume-challenged hospital emergency departments.

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