22 Jun Reopening Dental Offices and Spas after COVID-19
As dental spas and medical practices and other medical facilities across the United States start to open their doors to patients seeking care beyond emergency procedures, they are tasked with preparing safety guidelines and processes to keep their patients safe. Because this is an unprecedented situation, many of them are not sure where to start. We have been helping medical practices create guidelines that are factual, in line with safety guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control, and also easy for patients to understand and follow.
One of the considerations you must keep atop of mind is that patients are more likely to keep their appointments if the steps are clearly outlined, properly explained (why should they do these things?), and easy to follow.
- Engage patients by calling them prior to their scheduled appointment to ask questions about their current health status, determining if they have been tested for the virus as well as inquiring about any symptoms they may currently have.
- Ask patients to limit the number of people who come with them to the appointment. If patients can attend alone, that is ideal.
- Take temperature checks of patients prior to entering the office.
- Remove magazines or toys from the reception area.
- Make hand sanitizer abundantly accessible around the office.
- Ask patients to wear a face covering when they arrive.
- Arrange the seating in the waiting room thoughtfully to limit the number of patients waiting at one time. Remove seats and change the configuration of furniture. Offer to call the cell of a patient if they would prefer to wait in the car for their appointment.
- Provide additional personal protective equipment (PPE) like surgical masks, N95 masks, full face shields or goggles with side shields to protect both staff and patients.
- Wait 15 minutes before disinfecting patient treatment rooms after use.
Prioritizing the most critical dental cases is another important component to scheduling appointments. It is advised that dentists should give care in a fashion that minimizes harm to patients from delaying care and lessens harm to personnel from possible COVID-19 exposure.
One of the biggest concerns of dental spas and medical practices is that most dental procedures create aerosols or the evidence of particles that come from the patient’s mouth that could include the virus. In addition to N95 and KN95 masks, goggles, disposable gowns and face shields, there are additional measures that can be taken. The ADA has also put together some helpful hints to reduce the aerosols that dentists and hygienists encounter, which will help lessen the spray from a patient’s mouth while working on them.
These guidelines include:
- Using high velocity suction as often as possible.
- While cleaning teeth, use hand scaling rather than using ultrasonic scaling.
- Put rubber dental dams if at all possible.
Some dental spas and medical practices have invested in installing office air-purification systems which will be helpful in eliminating aerosols from practice rooms. Other practices have divided their staff into multiple teams with alternating shifts to provide coverage for the entire week. This will help in scheduling and offering additional hours to patients. Creativity and patience are keys to success moving forward.
Being able to administer COVID-19 tests on patients might be another plan of action to keep everyone safe in the not too distant future. Time will help to determine additional methods of protection as dental offices reopen their doors and welcome back patients.
Make sure you patients know that your dental spa is open and back in business.