Austin, TX – Quarantine restrictions are decreasing all over the country. With more hospital beds becoming less overwhelmed in highly populated areas, and more people in need of vital services, it was only a matter of time until things will open up again. Dental practices being one of them. However, just because these practices are opening up, does not mean that there is any exclusion of safety measures. Quite the contrary, many dental practices are taking precautions and reasonable efforts towards reopening their business. But what do those efforts look like? And what steps are becoming more standardized with other businesses down the line? Let’s find out.
Checking your Temp at the Door and Limiting Crowds
One of the more common precautionary measures according to our very own Dr. Brian Tucker of Austin Family Dentists, is limiting the amount of people in the waiting room at a time. “Before the appointment we’ll be screening on the phone. We’re going to limit the amount of patients in the waiting room, and once they come to the office we’re gonna do some interview screening there – taking temperatures on all patients. We’re going to be eliminating all items such as toys, magazines and books from the waiting room.”
This is the type of protocol that most doctors offices, and other medical centers are already putting in place, given the situation. Checking for fever at the door and limiting the number of patients, as well as what they can touch will decrease the chances of them passing anything contagious to either the medical staff and other patients.
The patients aren’t the only ones that undergo screening. State protocol requires daily screening from dental staff. That includes temperature checks for the entire staff, twice a day.
Increased Personal Protective Equipment and Safety Measures
Saliva is very messy business. While it does not spread as much disease as much as blood or urine, Covid-19, Herpes, and HIV can still be spread and detected through saliva. When you think about that, and add in the realization that dentists and their assistants are constantly working around saliva, you start to get a clearer picture of why they need to feel protected. So, it makes sense that Austin Family Dentists, and other Texas dental companies are making sure that everyone is well equipped with supplies.
But what kind of PPE are the dental staffs required to keep in supply?
The State Board of Dental Examiners states this as a requirement,”Staff needs to wear personal protective equipment, including N-95 respirator masks or KN-95 masks, if they will be within 6 feet of a procedure that is likely to have elements that aerosolize (such as particles flying). The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends gowns, gloves and face shields as well.”
Increased Awareness for Dentists and their Patients
The board also requires other safety protocols to keep patients and practitioners mindful of decreasing the spread of the virus. They do not fit squarely into the above two categories, but they are still vital. These are measures that exist for both keeping the public consciousness aware of the safety protocol in the first place and keeping dentists aware of minimizing the risk overall.
These measures include:
- Putting up signs that remind patients to keep their physical distance.
- Getting patients to agree to notify their dentists when they have caught Covid-19 after
- Disallowing dental practitioners to work on multiple patients at a time.
- Setting up a place for workers to change out of work clothes into casual clothing after their shift. This is to prevent the possibility of spreading the virus at home.
Cautious Optimism Moving Forward
Times are uncertain, and we may not always know what to expect moving forward. But if we keep standing still and do nothing is almost as dangerous for us as pretending that Covid-19 does not exist. Instead, we are going to move forward with a healthy respect for what we are dealing with. We will do what we can to minimize the risk, even if it seems a little overblown at first. Things will slowly go back to normal, given the right time and protocol. We just need to be aware that we are all in this together and that our collective actions have as much consequence as our individual contributions.
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