Is It Safe to Visit the Dentist?
It’s still uncertain when things will finally go back to normal. But when it comes to dental emergencies, it’s still an emergency and requires urgent treatment. Usual check-ups might be impossible for now, but when you’ve knocked out a tooth, under severe pain, significant bleeding or swelling of the neck or head possibly due to a tooth or gum infection, it requires urgent dental treatment.
Is it safe to visit the dentist?
Dentists and other health professionals have already formulated and implemented measures to best protect patients. There are still restrictions to protect the health professionals, staff and succeeding patients (e.g. if there’s a high possibility that a patient has COVID-19, he or she should not come to the clinic). As of this writing (5 May 2020), those who can come to the clinic should be aware of what will happen inside before, during and after the procedure.
Disinfection, sanitation and sterilisation measures are strictly in place to minimise the risks of COVID-19 transmission. Minimal contact should also be applied such as avoiding touching most things in the clinic and waiting room (e.g. bringing and using your own pen to fill in any paperwork). Also, only the one who has the appointment should go inside the clinic and waiting room. The companion will have to remain outside so that inside the clinic or waiting room there will only be the lowest number of people possible.
Upon arrival, there will be a screening (e.g. having the temperature taken and signing a health declaration form). Once in or right before entering the premises, the use of a hand sanitiser is a must (which is readily available in the premises). The antibacterial sanitisers are also a must before and after the dental treatment.
The dentists, staff and other health professionals apply disinfection and sterilisation procedures on all surfaces in the treatment room. All dental instruments are also being sterilised and that all surfaces in the waiting room (including reception surfaces) are being sanitised. These safety measures in place (which could increase or become more thorough as more information about COVID-19 comes in) are in accordance with the government regulations and ADA guidelines. The main goal is to minimise risk of transmission while still delivering critical dental services.
Until things get back to normal (which may require first the development and distribution of vaccines and treatment that can take a few years before they reach the general population), it’s still best to practice good oral hygiene to prevent dental emergencies in the first place or delay their occurrence. You may need to limit consumption of sugary foods and beverages and refrain from biting down on hard foods. It’s also good to take extra care when doing a physical activity so that you won’t knock a tooth out or get it chipped.
Emergencies do come which is why it’s crucial to contact your dentist right away. As early as now, it’s also good to list all the contact info of nearby dentists in your area and plan the travel (and note the precautions and safety measures mentioned above). This way when a dental emergency happens, you’ll be quick to act and you can spare yourself from a great deal of pain and expense.