The recent lockdown is a timely reminder that COVID has not gone away, despite the relatively carefree life we have been living here in Western Australia. This blog sets out some of the measures we have in place to protect our patients and staff, to keep COVID at bay in WA. It also details what you can expect when you visit the dental practice.
Before you attend the practice
When you call to make an appointment, you will be asked some questions so we can determine whether it is appropriate to provide treatment or not. These questions will centre around your health, and social contacts. For example, we will ask whether you, or anyone in your household, are experiencing any COVID like symptoms such as a cough, fever or shortness of breath. We will also be interested in your recent travel history and whether you have had contact with anyone who may have been exposed to COVID.
Help us by letting us know if you work in an industry or setting where you may have been inadvertantly exposed to the virus such as healthcare, hotel quarantine or border security.
If there is any chance you could be a COVID risk please reschedule your appointment. There are provisions for dealing with patients who have a dental emergency and who meet the epidemiological and clinical criteria for COVID-19, but that will be in a public hospital with appropriately trained personnel and not in a general dental practice.
Attending the Dental Practice
When you attend the practice you will be met with some new signage indicating measures we are taking to keep you safe. Importantly, we will ask again that you do not to enter if you are unwell, see the paragraph above for more details.
Depending on the most recent government advice you may be asked to wear a mask while in the waiting room and you may find the reception staff doing the same, please be respectful of the legislation which dicates this.
Firstly we request that you either use the hand-sanitiser provided in the waiting room or use the sink in the patient toilet to wash your hands.
You will also be asked to use the Safe WA app which can be downloaded to your mobile phone, or to complete a slip detailing your attendance. This information is kept confidential but may be requested as part of track and trace efforts should another outbreak occur in the community.
Please also practice social distancing in the waiting room, keeping a distance of 1.5metres at all times. You may wish to wait in your vehicle to be called. This also means, that where possible, you should attend your appointment alone. Understandably this is not always possible for example if you are bringing a child to see the dentist, but please keep the number of persons attending to a minimum at all times.
We have removed all magazines and toys from the waiting area to minimise the risk of contamination.
In the dental surgery
Your dentist and dental assistant will greet you in the dental surgery already wearing their PPE (personal protective equipment). As an accredited dental practice we have always adhered to strict infection control procedures, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we have made some changes in response. The most notable of this is that you will be asked to undertake a pre-procedural mouth rinse for 30 seconds before commencing treatment. This is done to reduce the viral load in the mouth and to make it safer to carry out dental procedures.
Your dentist may also use dental dam during certain procedures. Like the mouth rinse this has the effect of mitigating the risk of transmission of pathogens in the droplets and aerosols created by your treatment.
After your dental treatment
As already noted, environmental cleaning is an important part of the standard precautions we take in dentistry. We follow guidelines issued by the Australian Dental Association and which outline the recommended cleaning and disinfection processes based on a risk assessment including individual patient risks as well as current community risks of disease transmission.
We hope this goes some way to explaining how COVID-19 affects your dental appointment and reassuring you that we are doing our utmost to keep you safe and healthy. Help us keep COVID at bay in WA.
Remember the ADA WA website is also a great resource for information on all things dental and we are also happy to answer general dental questions either over the phone, via email, or Facebook and Instagram.