The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic demands care and caution of all of us in every aspect of our daily lives, including how we go about receiving important medical and dental care. In Alberta, all dentists are permitted to be open to the public as of May 2020. While every dental clinic in Crescent Heights is thrilled to be able to support their patient’s health and families throughout the pandemic, you should know that things aren’t back to the way they were before the pandemic affected all our lives.
If you haven’t seen the dentist since before a state of public health emergency was declared in Alberta in March 2020 or since dentists were permitted to re-open to the public, you may notice some differences when you come to your next appointment.
The Alberta Dental Association and College, College of Alberta Dental Assistants and College of Registered Dental Hygienists of Alberta have developed Dental Practice Guidelines During the Pandemic. The guidelines outline how dental professionals will act to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 infection while, at the same time, ensuring the public has appropriate access to essential dental care. Whether you are attending an emergency dentist in Crescent Heights or a general dental office near you, we want you to be aware of the Guidelines and how we’ve prepared to ensure you and our entire community is kept safe at all times.
The staff at each dental clinic in Crescent Heights will contact each patient to perform pre-appointment screening. That screening is intended to accomplish several goals using seven questions set out in the Guidelines. Those goals are:
- To ask questions to determine if you are symptomatic or potentially infected despite that asymptomatic
- To determine the patient’s risk of being infected with COVID-19
- To determine whether the patient is part of a vulnerable population
- To explain the changes to your dental practice and how they will affect your appointment
Your answers will help the dentist’s staff to determine if you are at a Low, Moderate, Probable or High Risk of COVID-19 infection. The dentist may make certain recommendations to you — deferring your appointment, shifting the time of your appointment, etc. — depending on your risk category.
Once You Are At Our Clinic
You will find reduced seating in our waiting areas to ensure physical distancing is possible, as well as plexiglass screens to ensure your safety while interacting with reception and elsewhere. There will be no need to share items such as pens with any other people, and you’ll find hand sanitation stations throughout the clinic. Only a limited number of people will be permitted into the clinic to ensure that everyone stays healthy.
Managing The Risks of Dental Procedures
Some dental tools such as powered instruments, ultrasonic tools, air polishers, high speed handpieces, and air-water syringes may produce aerosols. These are called aerosol generating procedures (AGPs). Because AGPs produce aerosols that consist of high concentrations of small droplets, they present a potential risk for airborne transmission of pathogens such as the coronavirus.
This is not a new risk with COVID-19, but a risk that is currently particularly important to consider. When deciding on what procedures to perform, an emergency dentist near you and all the staff in every dental clinic in Crescent Heights will balance your need for particular procedures, the costs and benefits of delaying certain procedures, and the best way to perform necessary procedures in the way that minimizes the risk of aerosol production to the extent possible. The Guidelines provide a series of technical and procedural guidelines for adjusting and substituting procedures to manage these risks. In a nutshell, because of the aerosol-related risk of some procedures, you’ll notice that we perform some procedures differently than we used to, and we may avoid performing some procedures until the risks of COVID-19 transmission have decreased.
Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment (PPE) in many forms has always been an element of professional dental practices, but has taken on new importance in recent months. All of our staff will be provided PPE (protective clothing, gloves, masks, and eye protection) and trained to use PPE properly. Every staff person who provides patient care or even just works in the patient care areas of the clinic will be required to wear a surgical or procedure mask at all times when within two metres of a patient or where there is no physical barrier between them and a patient.
Dental treatment is important, but it’s essential that it be provided safely in a way that reflects the best available information about COVID-19 related risks. This will require flexibility and patience on all sides of the dentist-patient relationship and a balancing of priorities. If you have any questions about the effects of the pandemic on treatment at an emergency dentist near you or at any dental clinic in Crescent Heights, don’t hesitate to contact our staff.