Coronavirus Outbreak: What to Follow During Emergency Dental Services
The recent spread of COVID-19 has created a huge impact on the entire society, including dental practices. The Coronavirus outbreak was first detected in Wuhan, China, but many cases have been reported in other locations worldwide, including the United States. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Coronavirus outbreak, a global pandemic, as the virus rapidly spread across the world, affecting many countries.
The source of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that 213,144 COVID-19 cases were reported in the US as of April 2. The virus is airborne, so the cross-infection between dental practitioners and patients can be high.
To control the spread of the infection, and minimize the Coronavirus impact on dental practices, it is crucial to follow these guidelines released by the CDC and ADA:
1. Protect Your Staff and Other Patients
Dentists need to act diligently while providing care for dental emergencies. So make sure you provide personal protective equipment, including face masks, protective eyewear, gloves, and gowns to your staff and patients. These can safeguard your staff and patients from the spread of infection.
2. Reschedule Your Routine Appointments
Inform your patients that you are restricting routine visits to emergency or urgent care and postponing non-emergency treatments and procedures as recommended by the ADA. Request patients to reschedule their appointments if they are sick or have a cough, respiratory problem, flu-like symptoms, or traveled outside of the country.
Also, inform your patients that you will treat emergency dental conditions such as severe tooth pain, infection, swollen gums, denture adjustments or repairs, trauma to the teeth or jaw, persistent bleeding in the mouth, and pain caused by a broken or fractured tooth.
3. Follow the Safety Measures Released by the CDC and ADA:
- Encourage your staff and patients to wash hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or a 1% hydrogen peroxide solution before each appointment
- Keep the frequently touched objects and surfaces in your dental office clean and disinfected
- Autoclave dental equipment and handpieces
- Practice social distancing
- Use a rubber dam to minimize potential exposure to infectious agents
- Use high-speed evacuation for dental procedures that produce an aerosol
- Ask your patients and staff to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and safely dispose it
- Ask your employees to stay home when they are sick
4. Patients’ Medical and Travel History
We as dentists need to make well-informed decisions about our patients and practices. Therefore, make sure you ask patients about their health and travel history and take their temperature readings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 disease. If required, screen them for any signs or symptoms of infection before providing treatment.
5. Ask Emergency Care Patients to Arrive On Time
ADA recommends requesting your emergency dental care patients to be on time for their dental appointments rather than too early. You can also increase the intervals between appointments to minimize infection. These steps will avoid the unnecessary crowd at your office.
The COVID-19 outbreak has become a major health concern for everyone, and healthcare experts say that staying at home or in self-isolation is the only way to stay safe and prevent the spread of the virus. The virus is airborne so the infection can spread from infected droplets, surfaces, or objects and contact with an infected person.
Hence, dental patient management becomes even more crucial as no dentist can ignore their dental emergency patients just because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, do what all you can do to assure your patients that your dental clinic is strictly adhering to the ADA and CDC guidelines for infection control and you as a vigilant dentist are taking all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.