How to Prepare Your Dental Office to Reopen Post COVID-19
The coronavirus outbreak has forced dental clinics to restrict routine visits to emergency or urgent care, or even temporarily close offices in some places. In the meantime, dentists need to develop some new policies and procedures that ensure a seamless transition back to fully functioning dental practice. From taking patients’ temperature readings to removing non-essential items, there is a lot you can do when reopening your dental office.
Considering the Future in Dentistry
Dentists want to reopen their offices as quickly as possible to prepare for a new “future” in dentistry. However, these factors can influence your clinic’s reopening time:
- Dental practice location and state regulations
- Employee availability
- Outbreak significance in your area
- Dental team health
- Emergency dentistry provided
All dental practitioners must consider the above-mentioned factors and work towards a safe reopening process.
Points to Consider When Reopening a Dental Office
Here are important points to consider when reopening your dental office post-COVID-19.
1. Patient Communication
Explain to your patients how the use of personal protective equipment, including face masks, gowns, gloves, and protective eyewear, can prevent the spread of viruses. In addition, ask your patients to wash their hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or a 1% hydrogen peroxide solution before their appointment.
2. Restrict Office Entry
For the majority of treatments and procedures, only allow office entry to patients during their appointment and ask those accompanying them to wait outside. This will avoid the unnecessary crowd at your office and minimize cross-infection.
3. Remove Non-Essential Items
Any non-clinical items, including flyers, implant displays, brochures, night guard samples, dental display models, and magazines, should be removed as they can transmit infection.
4. Change Appointment Confirmation Procedure
Contact your patients over the phone and ask about their health and travel history. Request them to reschedule their appointments if they are sick, have a cough, respiratory problem, flu-like symptoms, or have recently traveled outside of the country.
5. Dental Supply Deliveries
All dental supply deliveries from dental suppliers or package carriers should be accepted outside and sanitized before bringing inside.
6. Do Not Stack Dental Appointments
Increase the intervals between your appointments to minimize cross-infection and ask your patients to follow social distancing while they wait.
7. Take Temperature Readings
Take patients’ temperature readings to help protect your staff, patients, and the community as well as prevent the spread of the infection. If required, screen them for symptoms of infection before providing treatment.
8. Modify Patient Check-In
Instead of having a physical check-in at your reception desk, call your patients for their appointment once the previous patient leaves and sanitization is done.
9. Sanitization Dental Assistant
Appoint a dental assistant to keep your dental office’s treatment rooms, waiting room, restrooms, and frequently touched objects and surfaces sanitized.
10. Evacuate Dental Procedures
Use high-speed evacuation for dental procedures that produce aerosol. Use a rubber dam to minimize potential exposure to infectious agents.
11. Use Heat to Clean Dental Equipment
Make sure to autoclave dental equipment and handpieces as this can kill blood-borne pathogens, viruses, and bacteria that cause infections.
12. Keep Your Patients Informed
Do not wait to reach out to your patients until you reopen your dental office. Rather, inform your patients about your reopening time, the safety precautions you are taking, and treatment incentives you have planned to offer through texts or emails.
Addressing these clinical safety concerns can help you in preventing cross-infection and prepare your dental practice to reopen viable and sound post-COVID-19.
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