COIVD-19 has caused a great deal of turmoil in 2020 and not least of all in the dental industry. From the middle of March to the middle of May dental practices have gone through various stages of restrictions designed to keep their patients and staff safe in these uncertain times. Let us tell you about COVID-19 and your dental visit?
We are currently operating at Level-1 restrictions across Australia which means that we can carry out all dental procedures, assuming our patients do not have any clinical or epidemiological factors which would suggest they may have COVID-19. This is why, when you contact us to make an appointment, you will be asked questions about your current health (particularly if you have a cough or fever), your travel history and your recent social contacts.
The categories of restriction were put in place through collaboration with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC,) The Dental Board of Australia, and the Australian Dental Association (ADA) and were designed to optimise the safety of staff and patients alike. Working from a starting position where infection control procedures were already given high importance, the incorporation of some additional measures means we are now able to provide a full range of services again. That Australia currently has a much lower rate of community transmission than many countries overseas is of course of huge significance in allowing us to provide safe dental treatment during COVID-19 and your dental visit.
So what are the additional measures? Firstly, you will be asked to either wash your hands or use the Alcohol Based Hand Rub as you enter the practice. As already mentioned you will be asked at the time of booking and again on arrival at the practice to confirm that you are not experiencing any of the main symptoms associated with COVID-19 such as a cough or fever. We will also request information on any recent travel or contact with a suspected or proven case of COVID-19. We ask that you are honest in your answers to protect yourself, your fellow patients and of course our staff who deserve that courtesy. Answering yes to any of these questions does not necessarily mean you cannot have dental treatment but we may choose to book you in as the last patient of the day or refer you a hospital based dental service depending on your circumstances and the dentist’s clinical judgement.
Having established that you are of low risk for COVID-19 and completed hand hygiene in the waiting area you will then be asked, when seated in the dental chair to perform a 30 second rinse with a hydrogen peroxide mouthwash. This is designed to reduce the viral load in the mouth rendering any aerosol less infectious and therefore less dangerous to patients, the dentist and their chairside assistant. Our staff will already be protected by their usual personal protective equipment including gloves, masks, eye protection and surgical scrubs which are laundered onsite at the end of each session or working day.
Cleaning between patients follows a well-established protocol which includes the disinfection of the dental chair and all its attachments and the cleaning and subsequent sterilisation of all instruments used during the appointment. Where applicable single use disposable items are used, although we are also mindful of our environmental impact in this regard.
Your dentist or assistant will be happy to answer any questions you have regarding our infection control protocols which follow the guidelines set by the Australian Dental Association and endorsed by the Dental Board of Australia.