We hope this notice finds you and your family in good health. Our community has been through a lot over the last few months, and all of us are looking forward to resuming our normal habits and routines. While many things have changed, one thing has remained the same: our commitment to your safety.
Infection control has always been a top priority for our practice and you may have seen this during your visits to our office. Our infection control processes are made so that when you receive care, it’s both safe and comfortable. We want to tell you about the infection control procedures we follow in our practice to keep patients and staff safe.
Our office follows infection control recommendations made by the American Dental Association (ADA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA). We follow the activities of these agencies so that we are up-to-date on any new rulings or guidance that may be issued. We do this to make sure that our infection control procedures are current and adhere to each agencies’ recommendations.
You may see some changes when it is time for your next appointment. We made these changes to help protect our patients and staff. For example:
- 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 offer 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.
- We will take your temperature upon arrival and discuss any reading over 100.3 degrees.
- You may see that our waiting room will no longer offer magazines, children’s toys and so forth, since those items are difficult to clean and disinfect.
We look forward to seeing you again and are happy to answer any questions you may have about the steps we take to keep you, and every patient, safe in our practice. To learn more about how our office is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, please read the following summary of how we work to promote health and safety when in our building as well as administrative and clinical spaces.
Systems in Place
HVAC System & Filters
Maintenance is a vital component to ensuring a clean, working, and healthy environment. Think about what your air filter looks like in your car or house when you realize it has been a little while since you last checked it. As part of our maintenance checklist, we regularly service our HVAC system. In addition to standard filters, our office also utilizes technology used in many hospitals to prevent airborne and surface contamination. Maintenance and inspection of these systems was performed in April of this year.
Design & Maintenance
When Dr. Goyer remodeled the office all those years ago, she had one goal in mind—easy to clean. Like all public spaces, the easier they are to clean and maintain the healthier the space. Every night the office is deep cleaned. Hourly, community spaces are wiped with CDC approved cleaning products, and treatment rooms are cleaned according to WISHA/ CDC guidelines as always. Remember, dentistry practices universal precautions at all times, not just during a pandemic.
Temperature & PPE
With the additional PPE each clinician is wearing, we are hot and fogging up our eye protection. In an effort to balance staff and patient comfort level, the office might feel cooler than usual. We have ordered additional blankets for our operatory rooms and, of course, wash each blanket after use. Even in summer months, you might consider bringing a sweatshirt. Thank you for understanding.
Systems in Place
Waiting Area (Lobby) & Playroom
We are fortunate to have a large waiting area for patients. We have removed all couches and replaced with additional chairs that are easy to clean hourly and spaced six feet or more apart. This actually results in the waiting area accommodating eleven patients following social distancing protocol; however, at no time are eleven patients in the waiting area. We also removed magazines as well as toys in the space for kids.
Check In & Check Out Process
You might recall that we have three administrative stations. We installed plexiglass at each station in addition to the existing glass dividers. This creates a barrier between staff and patients. Upon arrival, we will take your temperature, confirm answers to our screening questions, and offer hand sanitizer.
We mentioned screening questions. The American Dental Association advised that we ask the following questions. In the event of a “yes” answer will discuss with one of the doctors and make a plan accordingly.
- Do you have a fever or have you felt hot or feverish recently?
- Are you having shortness of breath or difficulty breathing?
- Do you have a cough?
- Do you have any other flu-like symptoms?
- Have you experienced recent loss of taste or smell?
- Are you in contact with any confirmed COVID-19 positive patients?
- Have you traveled in the past 14 days to any regions affected by COVID-19?
Thank you for your help keeping everyone healthy!
Paperwork & Sanitation
We sometimes joke that it wouldn’t be a proper dental appointment without a little paperwork. We want to assure you that we wipe our clipboards before and after use with CDC-approved cleaning products. The same is true of pens; however, we are now treating pens as single use items, so at least if we ask you to complete a few forms, you will leave with a brand new pen!
Systems in Place
Extraoral Dental Suction System
During some treatment, high volumes of droplets and aerosols are produced. This happens when high-speed handpieces and ultrasonic scalers are used. The extraoral dental suction removes droplets, aerosols, virus, bodily fluid, and dust cast into the air during treatment. Remember, not all procedures create droplets and aerosols.
This piece of equipment works much like the extraoral dental suction system with a few added benefits. In addition to removing droplets and aerosols, the Isolite acts as a bite block (allowing you to rest your jaw during treatment), illumination (so we can see better), and retraction (meaning our hands don’t have to hold your mouth open). It really is a benefit to both clinician and patient. It might take a little getting used to, but the added safety features really do make it worth any acclimation period.
Hydrogen Peroxide Mixture
As COVID-19 spread, one of the initial additional protocol that was suggested by the American Dental Association (ADA) was the use of a hydrogen peroxide rinse prior to any dental treatment or exam. The idea is that the virus is susceptible to oxidation, thus the rinse would kill any virus present in the mouth. Although there are no studies confirming the efficacy of the rinse prior to treatment, we continue to dispense as part of our additional protocol as recommended by the ADA.
American Dental Association & Center for Disease Control
As always, we are following guidelines issued by the American Dental Association (ADA) & Center for Disease Control (CDC). Both entities are updating providers on a regular basis. The ADA published a Return to Work Interim Guidance Toolkit. All of our protocols and checklists are built off of this guide, which includes the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), additional barriers found throughout the office, and communication with patients.
At all times, dental offices practice Universal Precautions, which is an approach to infection control that treats all human blood and certain human body fluids as if they were known to be infectious. Based on the area of the body that we work, our protocols already take into consideration infectious diseases. The way we clean our rooms and sterilize our instruments, as well as the personal protective equipment that we wear, address these concerns daily.