One of the many knock-on effects caused by COVID-19 has been the impact on oral health. Specifically, visiting the dentist.
On 24 March, the coronavirus pandemic forced all dental practices in the UK to close, except for a number of emergency treatment stations or dental Hubs. This had a big impact on how our patients could access their dental care.
We were oncall everyday however, so although we could not necessarily do the same things we would have been able to, we were there for advice, pain relief , prescriptions and of course emergency care via our local Hub.
This changed on 8 June, when we were able to start opening our doors again- at our current location of Peasholm Dental Practice.
Just like everyone else, we have needed to adapt our previously ‘normal’ day-to-day routine. We have been keeping up to date with all the guidance, and following all the advice, to make sure we keep our patients and staff happy and healthy.
Here’s a summary of what you might expect at your next visit:
Changes on arrival
Before you visit, we will be contacting you to check whether you feel well. We will be asking you a few questions about your health and the health of the people you live with. Nobody with any signs of COVID-19 will be able to visit the dental practice.
Appointments can only be made by telephone and we ask that you do not visit us without an appointment. As a precaution, you will find our doors will be locked. Reception are looking out for you though, so don’t worry!
It is best to arrive alone and on time (rather than early). This will minimise your time waiting. Try not to bring too many things with you too.
While you are waiting
When you arrive at reception, a few things will be different. The first might be that a member of staff is waiting for you to check you in. They will be wearing PPE that you might normally only see them in once in surgery.
The next noticeable change on arrival might be that you will be asked to sanitise your hands. This will be provided for you. There will also be a protective barrier at reception – much like what you now see when shopping.
You may be asked to wear a protective face mask. This is for your safety.
When you enter the waiting room you will notice that it has been reorganised for social distancing. Be reassured that it is cleaned frequently and anything that isn’t easy to disinfect has already been removed.
Changes to how dental teams work
The most important thing to know in the wake of coronavirus, is how dental teams are making sure you are safe during treatment.
Firstly, the treatment room will be well ventilated. This means creating an airflow which does not recirculate, and that old air can leave the room as quickly as possible.
You will see that the dental team is wearing extra protective equipment, even more than normal! As always, their equipment is fully sterilised.
The little sink next to the chair is out of action. This means no rinsing. Instead, your mouth will be cleared with suction.
Like all dentists, we will be using equipment and techniques with a lower risk of spray. Emergency procedures, which produce high levels of spray, will be done in different manner, but will still be as efficient and effective.
Non-urgent procedures may be delayed, and we are allowing more time between patients. This allows for socisl distancing.
The surgeries are of course cleaned between patients, but this has always been the case- we have always had pride in our cleanliness.
When you are leaving
The final changes during your experience, is when you leave.
Firstly, it is safer to pay with a contactless card if you can, and use your own pen to sign any paperwork. We will ask if it is ok for us to sign on your behalf, if you would prefer, this means you do not have to touch anything.
Usually, you might be handed a piece of paper or leaflet with advice or instructions about your treatment. In the short term, this will no longer happen. Instead, this information will be provided verbally, at a social distance.
Finally, if you need any further visits, these will be made over the phone for you, once you have returned home.
It’s important that you, as a patient, are comforted by the measures that are being taken. All changes that have been made for the safety of staff and patients alike.
If in doubt, give the practice a call on 01723 500 340, and ask to speak to Emma. She will ensure everything is explained to you, and help put your mind at ease.