What we’re doing to help
If you are elderly and/or medically compromised, you need to be very careful and shelter in place. Everyone else should be cautious in the way they go about resuming normal activity. Wear a mask, keep your distance from people you don’t know well, or who may have exposed themselves to someone with the virus. Carry disinfectant wipes or at least paper towels to defend yourself against door handles, elevator buttons, bathroom fixtures, etc. Wash your hands whenever you have touched something that could have been touched by many others and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with hands that have touched anything since they were last washed or sanitized.
Here at our dental office, we’re doing all those things and a lot more to keep ourselves and our patients safe.
First of all, we screen every patient for symptoms or possible exposure to COVID via a link in a text prior to inviting them to the office. This is the first line of defense to minimize the viral load in our office space. We ask patients to notify us of their arrival from their car so as to minimize the number of people in the reception area at one time. Masks are required to enter the building. Upon being invited into the reception area, patients use a no-touch hand sanitizer (those darn elevator buttons) and have their temperature taken with a no-touch thermometer.
If no fever, then the clinical team is notified to escort the patient to a treatment room already prepared for them. Here they are asked to remove their mask and rinse and gargle with a hydrogen peroxide solution that kills any virus present in the mouth and throat.
From this point, the dental procedures are provided as usual with the addition of certain measures and suction devices to minimize aerosol production while providing care. Countertop air cleaners further manage the virus load of any aerosol that may be created. Once the procedure is finished, patients are asked to remain in the treatment room while as much of the check out procedure is accomplished and only allowed to go to the front desk when no other patients are there.
Cleaning and beyond
Once a patient leaves the treatment room, the clinical team moves in to make it ready for the next patient. The first step is to fog the entire room. A noisy machine blasts a fog of HOCl (hypochlorous acid/electrostatic water) a natural disinfectant that kills the coronavirus almost instantaneously (15 seconds). The fog is directed at the ceiling and allowed to fall to the floor or to any surface in between. This step is a new addition to our disinfecting protocol since the advent of the coronavirus. The fog precipitates airborne virus to the floor, killing it in the process. The standard disinfecting wipe down recommended by CDC and OSHA follows.
This is the protocol that has kept patients and healthcare providers safe since the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. Following wipe down, the entire treatment room is fogged again as a final blanket of protection before plastic wraps are applied to often touched and difficult to clean equipment in the room. Finally, sterile instruments, needed for the next patient are brought in and the room is set up for the next procedure.
Throughout the day, door handles, countertops, faucets, and dispensers are wiped down repeatedly and at the end of the day, the entire office is fogged so we start fresh every morning.
What You Should Know
While treating patients, there is no time to explain all we do to keep you safe and hence the reason for this page. (Besides, conversations with masks on are difficult and awkward.) I hope this explanation is helpful. We are comfortable and confident in our protocol but we are constantly on the lookout for any improvements in current best practices. Our goal is to make our dental office a safer place than any other business you may interact with.