Visiting the Dentist while Social Distancing: Is it safe to go during the COVID-19 crisis?

It’s hard for many to motivate themselves to visit the dentist, even if they know they should go. As the COVID-19 global pandemic continues to sweep across the globe, many are asking — is it even safe to visit the dentist at the moment?

We know that COVID-19 is waterborne and can be spread by droplets of saliva when people couch, sneeze — even talk. Surely the dentist would be the last place you should go?

You may be surprised to hear, then, that it’s still perfectly safe to visit the dentist. Not sure how that is? Read on.

Why It’s Safe to Visit the Dentist

Firstly, dental practices are medical facilities. Even without the presence of a global pandemic, dentists employ strict hygiene and safety standards.

Our mouths are carriers of many bugs we prefer not to share even at the best of times. Keeping dentists and patients safe from bacteria or diseases communicated from the mouth is pretty much standard procedure.

Disposable gloves, masks, goggles, face masks, and scrubs are always part of routine safety protocols.

Sanitisation in dental clinics is necessarily to hospital grade. Thermal and chemical disinfectants are a huge part of the operational costs of running a dental clinic. Any reusable item is regularly cleaned to the highest possible standards to prevent cross-contamination between patients and staff.

However, these are unusual times, and we are dealing with a particularly infectious disease. Are routine protocols enough?

That’s why dental clinics have been upping their safety game.

How Dental Clinics Are Fighting COVID-19

On top of the already strict health and safety protocols that form daily practice for dentists, most clinics have now implemented new safety measures.

  • Social distancing in waiting areas. This is achieved either by limiting how many people can be in the reception at once, or asking patients to remain in their vehicles before they enter the practice.
  • Video consults. Telehealth consults let dentists talk to patients about their concerns before they enter the clinic. This allows a treatment plan to be considered beforehand, so the actual appointment in the dental chair is as quick as possible.
  • Air filters and purifiers. Specially designed filtration systems vacuum air away from a person’s mouth and pass it through hospital-grade HEPA filters. This removes any bacteria, virus or contaminants in the air and returns clean, purified air into the room.
  • UV sanitising stations. Certain wavelengths of UV radiation are perfect for killing bacteria and viruses without the need for chemicals. Special UV cabinets are used to sterilise small things such as money and tubes.
  • Full face masks. Even in normal times, full face coverings are sometimes used during procedures likely to create a lot of particulate in the air. Water droplets hit the plastic covering and never reach the dentist’s face. During the pandemic, more dentists are choosing to use them as a matter of course rather than in special circumstances. This physical barrier along with the masks provides excellent protection.

Trusting Patients to Help

Of course, dealing with a global pandemic is not just the responsibility of the dental clinic and its team.

As much dentists want to continue providing quality dental care to their patients, social distancing is still one of the best ways to combat the spread of infection. If a patient has any of the signs of COVID-19, or has been in direct contact with someone who has COVID-19, it is best they refrain from visiting the dentist unless it is an emergency.

By minimising the risk of a patient with COVID-19 from even entering the practice, dentists offer all of their patients — and themselves — the best chances at avoiding infection.

To learn more about our COVID-19 safety measures we have in place, contact Platinum Dental and we’ll discuss with you how we’re operating to keep your teeth clean during these tough times.