New Rules For Dentists To Follow To Stay Safe
Dental Care Slowly Resumes But Not Like Usual
We’re still in a pandemic so dentists have new rules to follow to keep everyone protected
TORONTO, ON — After 12 weeks of restrictions, Ontario’s dentists got the green light last night to re-open their offices. While you can now book an appointment with your dentist for a cleaning or any other treatment, the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) wants you to know what you can expect from your dentist during this ongoing pandemic. Dentists have always followed strict infection prevention protocols but there are some new rules in place to ensure the protection of patients, dentists and their dental teams:
All patients will be asked COVID-19 screening questions before their appointment. If they clear the screening, they can receive treatments. Just keep in mind, dentists are prioritizing patients making sure those with the most pressing dental care needs are treated first.
If a patient screens positive, the dentist will determine if they require emergency and urgent care and if not, will be asked to wait until their health improves. If they do meet emergency or urgent criteria, treatment will happen in a closed room with the dental team in full personal protective equipment (PPE), and there will be up to a three-hour wait time until a dentist can see the next patient (the amount of time depends on the air filtration system in the office).
Will it be safe to visit my dentist when their office reopens?
Yes. Dentists have always followed very strict infection prevention and control procedures. With these added COVID-19 guidelines, dentists can begin preparing to provide you with the safest care possible. Your dentist will open their office only when they can meet these safety requirements. Their priority is to protect you, other patients and their staff.
What will be different?
Here are some of the changes you can expect at your dentist’s office:
- Appointments will be spaced out to allow physical distancing between patients. It will also allow time for their office to be disinfected between each appointment. That might mean less flexibility for scheduling your appointment
- The day before your appointment your dentist or their staff will ask you questions to see if you have any COVID-19 symptoms. Your temperature will likely be taken with a touchless thermometer
- You will be asked to wear a mask or face covering while in the office except when you are being treated
- Dental staff will be wearing more protective gear than normal. This includes masks, face shields, and gowns. Your dentist must ensure that they have the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) before they schedule an in-person appointment
- You may be asked to limit the number of people you bring to the appointment with you. There are exceptions for small children and people who require assistance. If a parent or caregiver is allowed, they will also be subject to all screening measures
- You may be asked to wait outside the dentist's office and call when you arrive. You must then wait for a call back to let you know when you can enter
- The waiting room will not be open for everyone. Chairs will be spaced two metres apart. There will be no magazines, toys, or any other non-essential items in the dental office, as these are all difficult to disinfect
- Patients must wash their hands with a 70 to 90 per cent alcohol-based solution, or soap and water, when they enter and leave the dentist's office
- Bathrooms will likely be closed to patient use
- Plan to pay by touchless payment, such as credit card or Interac
At At the time of your appointment you may also:
- Have to wait outside the office and be called in
- Be asked screening questions again
- Have to sanitize your hands when you enter and leave the office
- Wear a mask (except during treatment)
ODA President, Dr. Lesli Hapak, says, “Dentists are happy to get back to providing care but it’s not like flipping the switch. Dentists have a backlog of patients and have to treat those who need immediate care first – it’s been 12 weeks since people have been able to see the dentist, and some are in greater need right now. We’re asking for everyone’s patience and understanding.”
Your dentist will let you know about their new procedures before your next appointment. For more information on new COVID-19 screening and answers to frequently asked questions, go to the weblink below.