COVID-19 has changed almost every aspect of our lives including our usual orthodontic and dental appointments. Today, our Antigonish dentists share the new regulations and rules we have in place when visiting Antigonish Family Dentistry during these uncertain times.
Keeping Safe While Maintaining Oral Health
Many of our patients are curious if it’s safe to visit the dentist while COVID-19 is still among us. In late spring/early summer 2020, lots of restrictions were lifted in many provinces across Canada, and patients could attend dental and orthodontic appointments again. However, you might notice that your dentist's office looks fairly different and that there are protocols to follow in order to make sure that staff and patients stay safe.
While attending your orthodontic appointments is important to your oral health as you continue through your orthodontic treatment, there are many questions and concerns that arise when it comes to attending your appointment. Since the pandemic is still with us, there are extra precautions needed to make sure everyone remains safe.
New Rules & Regulations Under COVID-19
In order for your dental office to stay open throughout this pandemic, all updated safety rules from provincial regulating bodies and governments have to be met. The dental team has to adhere to this guidance, as well as the most up-to-date information from their province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health when providing care. This includes:
- Scheduling appointments to allow patients to physically distance themselves. There must also be time for treatment areas to be disinfected between each appointment. Keep in mind that everyone is now on a time crunch, and that may mean you need to book an appointment further ahead or that there will be less flexibility in your dentist’s daily schedule.
- Potentially waiting outside. Depending on the office, you might be asked to wait outside and call when you arrive. You’ll be notified when it’s appropriate to enter.
- Socially distanced waiting rooms. You’ll find chairs are spaced 2 meters apart. There will be no magazines, toys, or other non-essential items as we try to reduce the number of touchable surfaces.
- Answering screening questions. Before your appointment, your dentist or their staff will ask you pre-screening questions to find out if you have any symptoms of COVID-19. You must answer these questions again when you arrive on the day of your appointment, in addition to having your temperature taken with a touchless thermometer.
- Using hand sanitizer. When you arrive, you’ll be asked to use a 70 to 90 percent alcohol-based solution, or soap and water, upon entering or leaving the office.
- Rescheduling appointments for sick patients. If you have any flu-like symptoms (difficulty breathing, cough, fever), or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, please stay home. If you have an upcoming orthodontic appointment, please call the office to report symptoms, reschedule or inquire about other care options.
- Wearing a face mask. Except for while you are being treated, you will be asked to wear a face mask or covering while in the dental office.
- Protective gear for office staff and dentists. In addition to surgical face masks, your dentist and their staff will wear correct personal protective equipment (PPE) during in-person appointments.
- Attending your appointment alone. Plan to attend your appointment alone, as fewer people in the office is always better. Exceptions are made for children and people who require assistance. If the patient needs a parent or caregiver, that person will also be subject to all screening questions/measures.
- Paying via touchless payment. Plan to use your debit card or credit card to pay any balance owing on your appointment.
Are you experiencing an orthodontic emergency and are wondering what you need to do? Call your dentist and inform them about your situation. They will give advice on the steps to take. If you have to come into the office, they will let you know if they can help you or direct you to another dentist, orthodontist, or emergency clinic.
What are orthodontic emergencies?
Orthodontic emergencies can involve:
- Broken orthodontic appliances, or wires poking into your cheek that you can’t fix yourself temporarily.
- Experiencing an intense amount of pain that can’t be resolved by taking over-the-counter pain medication or rinsing with salt water to reduce inflammation.
In these cases, call our practice quickly and we can get you in as fast as possible. In the meantime, ice the affected area. If part of your orthodontic appliance has broken, try to find it, and bring it along to your appointment.