Our team met today on Zoom. We have been having team meetings every Wednesday to discuss dental visits during COVID-19, dentistry’s new protocols, discuss team building activities and other work related topics.
Today we worked on putting together our new protocol. That included creating a questionnaire for patients, discussing our log book for our team, how long between each patient, how we will treat safely, etc.
You see, our research team goes into housing units and treats those 62 and older. Furthermore, since we treat those most vulnerable to the COVID-19, we are not certain when we will be back in action. However, we are preparing for our return.
As a dental hygienist in community research, we do not use aerosol producing equipment during treatments. For that, I am thankful. If I were in private practice, I may have more concerns.
To that, we had an open discussion about our concerns. Any concerns. Some spoke about their fears in coming back. We brainstormed and discussed solutions.
Let’s discuss what dental visits will look like during COVID-19
Part of our discussion included the additional ways of protecting ourselves. One dentist on our team insisted that we wear 2 pairs of gloves at all times. As a result, I imagined what that was going to look and feel like: Bonnet, goggles, face shield, head lamp (we are in community research so all of our equipment, including lights, are portable), isolation gown and 2 pairs of gloves. Yikes!
I quickly went on social media and asked dental hygienists: Because of dentistry’s new protocols, do we have to double glove? Brandy, a dental hygienist replied, no and sent this infographic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Whew! That’s all I needed.
The list below is from the CDC regarding the changes in dentistry. While this is not a definitive guide, it is a conversation starter.
Summary of Changes to the Guidance
Below are changes to the guidance as of April 13, 2020:
- To address asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, implement source control for everyone entering a healthcare facility (e.g., healthcare personnel, patients, visitors), regardless of symptoms.
- This action is recommended to help prevent transmission from infected individuals who may or may not have symptoms of COVID-19.
- Cloth face coverings are not considered PPE because their capability to protect healthcare personnel (HCP) is unknown. Facemasks, if available, should be reserved for HCP.
- For visitors and patients, a cloth face covering may be appropriate. If a visitor or patient arrives to the healthcare facility without a cloth face covering, a facemask may be used for source control if supplies are available.
- Actively screen everyone for fever and symptoms of COVID-19 before they enter the healthcare facility.
- As community transmission intensifies within a region, healthcare facilities could consider foregoing contact tracing for exposures in a healthcare setting in favor of universal source control for HCP and screening for fever and symptoms before every shift.
- Added links to updated guidance for:
- Strategies to Optimize the Supply of PPE and other Equipment
- Interim Guidance for Discontinuation of Transmission-Based Precautions and Disposition of Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19
- Interim Guidance on Criteria for Return to Work for Healthcare Personnel with Confirmed or Suspected COVID-19.
- Strategies to Mitigate Staffing Shortages
COVID-19 and dentistry
We all knew that as a result of COVID-19 life wasn’t going to be the same. If we are to stay in the game, we will play by the new rules. Knowing what they are is the first step, discussing them and coming up with solutions is the second step.
Dental visits during COVID-19 have changed significantly. These guidelines must be followed or we risk exposing ourselves and our patients. No amount of money can replace good health and precious lives.
This is a time to discuss our concerns, check the boxes, is your dental office following protocol? Are you having discussions? Is everyone on board? How do you feel about dentistry’s new protocols?
They say we are all in this together.
Is your office?
I would love to hear your thoughts. Please post below. Thank you!