In May, the Ministry of Health gave Ontario dental practices the green light to resume operations. However, this doesn’t mean the world is coronavirus-free.
We’re still in the middle of a health crisis. To continue delivering dental treatments to the public amid the pandemic, dentists are implementing safety measures to lower the risk of infection in their clinics.
If you’re going to the dentist for the first time since the pandemic happened, expect some changes in the dental setting. It’s likely that your dentist is also taking stricter precautions when accommodating patients from now on.
Note That Dental Environments Are at Risk
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the coronavirus spreads when contaminated droplets of saliva from an infected person end up in another person’s mouth, nose or eyes. The spread of infection can also happen after touching a contaminated object including door handles, tables, chairs, pens, and light switches.
Dental environments produce vast amounts of vapour and saliva droplets. The use of instruments like drills, air-water syringes, and scalers in the mouth produce tiny droplets of water and saliva (and in some cases blood).
These droplets may contain viruses and microorganisms. Large particles can land on dental tools, chairs, and desks, while tiny particles can remain in the air for hours. This can make dental clinics a high-risk environment for coronavirus infection.
However, steps have been taken to guarantee the safety of patients.
Is it Safe to Visit the Dentist Amid the Pandemic?
Dentists have always been compliant with strict infection prevention and control practices even before the pandemic. This comes from the awareness of the possibility of airborne infection in dental environments. So yes, rest assured that it’s safe to go to your dentist during the pandemic.
Based on the recent directive of the Ministry of Health, you can head to the dentist to avail of essential and non-essential services, emergency services, and urgent care.
11 Things to Expect in Your Next Dental Appointment
All dental offices in Ontario are required to follow the updated safety guidelines set by the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO) to be allowed to operate during the pandemic. These are compulsory dental requirements that dental practices need to comply with on top of the guidelines the Chief Medical Officer of Health has rolled out.
In observance of these rules and regulations, below are some safety protocols and changes you can expect in your next dental appointment:
1.Spaced-out appointments – To enforce physical distancing, appointments will now be spaced out for the safety of the patients and staff. Intervals between appointments are also used to disinfect the treatment areas and dental instruments. Expect that there might be less flexibility when scheduling.
2.Pre-treatment screening – Prior to your appointment and upon arrival at the dental clinic, your dental team will ask you a set of questions. They will need to know your medical history and determine if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. They will also take your temperature when you arrive for your scheduled appointment.
3.Transparency if you have symptoms – You need to stay home if you have flu-like symptoms including cough, fever, or breathing problems or if you’ve had contact with someone who might have COVID-19. If you’re sick and you have a scheduled appointment, call your dentist ahead of time. Ask to reschedule your appointment.
4.Wearing a mask or face shield – Your dentist will require you to wear your face mask or shield upon entering and throughout your stay in the dental clinic (except during your dental procedure).
5.Your dental team will also wear complete PPE – For an added layer of protection, your dentist and staff will be wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE) than the usual face mask and gloves.
6.Limited in-office visitors – To implement physical distancing, your dentist may ask you to come alone for your treatment. Toddlers, persons with disabilities, and elderly patients are allowed to have company. Both the patient and the parent or caregiver will be screened before the appointment.
7.You may have to wait outside the office – Some dentists ask their patients to wait outside for their turn. The staff will notify you when it’s time for the dentist to see you.
8.No more lounge or waiting room – Your clinic may not open the waiting room for patients. If ever it’s open, the seats will be spaced at least 2 meters apart.
9.Proper disinfection is a must – Patients must wash their hands with soap and water upon entering and leaving the dental office. A 70 or 90% alcohol-based sanitizer will be available inside.
10.Bathrooms may not be available for public use
11.Contactless payment – You will likely pay for your dental treatment or procedure through your credit card.
When Should I Book an Appointment?
Seek immediate dental care if you’re experiencing any of the following problems:
- Severe pain
- Swelling gums, face, or neck
- Heavy bleeding
- Trauma following an injury including knocked-out tooth, abscess, tooth fracture, or missing filling
- Dental issues caused by an existing medical condition (diabetes or chemotherapy)
- Post-surgery care that only a dentist can perform
- Tissue that requires biopsy
- Broken wires in your braces
- Broken crown or dentures
Many dental clinics in Etobicoke and around Toronto are open for emergency care, so don’t hesitate to contact the nearest dental practice in your area.
In case you need to see a hygienist for your routine cleanings and dental offices near your area are not offering non-essential treatments, you’ll need to wait for them to reopen. Non-essential services include:
- Teeth cleaning
- Dental exams
- Tooth removal
- Treatment for cavities
- Teeth whitening
- Cosmetic dentistry
- Braces adjustment
Keep Your Teeth Clean and Healthy During the Pandemic
In the meantime, practice proper oral hygiene to keep your teeth, gums, and overall mouth healthy. Here are fundamental oral care habits you every person needs to observe without pandemic:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day (in the morning and before bedtime).
- Floss once every day to remove food particles.
- Eat healthy foods that are rich in vitamin A, C, D, calcium, and phosphorus. These vitamins and minerals help boost your oral health.
- Learn how to manage stress. Exercise daily and get adequate hours of sleep. Don’t forget to relax and unwind.
- Avoid smoking and drinking. These habits weaken the teeth.
- Avoid consuming too many sugary foods and beverages. Sugar attacks the tooth enamel and damages it. Drink lots of water to wash off excess sugar and damage-causing bacteria.
- Eat crunchy fruits and vegetables. Doing so helps increase saliva production which helps wash off oral bacteria.
When you need a reliable dentist who can look after your family’s oral health at this time, give Dr. Mark Rhody Dentistry a call. As your Etobicoke dentist, we provide residents access to urgent dental care in these challenging times without sacrificing your safety.
We adhere to strict infection prevention and control measures to protect our patient and staff’s health. Call Dr. Mark Rhody’s office at (416) 231-4281 to make an appointment with an Etobicoke dentist; we’d love to hear from you!