Safety Measures in Our Dental Practice – Our Entire Team is Vaccinated.
Training and Educating Our Team:
- One of the most important things we are doing during this time is to train and educate our staff. Dentistry has always been ahead of the curve with the use of proper PPE procedures and sterilization techniques. We will continue to adhere to our stringent guidelines with added precautions.
- Our team has had refresher training in proper hand washing techniques. This may seem basic; however, it is the most important thing we can do to prevent the spread of the virus. Consequently, we have spent a lot of time ensuring that our team does it well and often, especially before and after every patient encounter.
- They have practiced the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE) prior to caring for a patient to prevent contamination.
- We encourage staff members who are not feeling well to proactively stay home and to be tested for COVID-19 before being allowed to return to work.
- We have everyone in the office take their temperature at the beginning of every day and we will immediately send home anyone with an elevated temperature (100.2 F and above) and they will be asked to be tested for COVID-19 and return when the test is negative.
- Limit the number of staff providing their care to facilitate social distancing within the office and among team members.
- We have created a specific checklist of recommendations for our team.
Recommendations for Our Team
- Wash hands upon entrance into the building
- The temperature of each employee will be taken and documented.
- Change into scrubs and work shoes (preferably plastic and wipeable) as soon as you arrive
- Use PPE as appropriate
- Leave all clutter (pens, phones, etc.) outside of patient op rooms
- We discourage workers from using other workers' phones, desks, offices, and other work tools and equipment when possible
- Clean phone handset after use
- Discourage cell phone use at work
- Wash hands and arms with soap
- Remove scrubs and shoes and leave at work
- Wash hands and put clean clothes on
- Sanitize phones, glasses, etc.
- Wash hands again
- Remove shoes and clothes. Shower immediately with soap and water before touching anything (including loved ones).
Patient Interviews and Social Distancing
Before patient arrival every effort is made to:
- Screen patients during the phone call when scheduling appointments for care using established and recommended screening checklists and scripts
- Prepare scripts and questions to recognize potential carriers
- Reschedule patients who show any signs of a cough or fever or who describe having any concerning warning signs
- Instruct patients to call ahead and reschedule their appointment if they develop symptoms of a respiratory infection (e.g., cough, sore throat, or fever) on the day they are scheduled to be seen.
To promote social distancing:
- Prioritize high-risk patients (immune compromised, over 60 y.o. etc.) with early morning appointments to minimize contact with other people
- When booking patients, we are spreading out the schedule so there are fewer people in the waiting room (a maximum of two people at a time)
- If a patient is being accompanied, their escort should wait in the car to limit the number of people in the waiting room and promote social distancing, unless the patient needs their help. The escort will be given a mask to wear if needing to remain with the patient.
- Utilizing a “virtual” waiting room: patients can opt to wait in their car or outside the office where they can be contacted by mobile phone when it is their turn to be treated.
Safety measures taken upon arrival:
- Provide supplies such as alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) with 60-95% alcohol, tissues, and no-touch receptacles for disposal, at the entrance, in waiting rooms, and at the front desk.
- Immediately escorted to a hand washing station
- Asked to rinse with 1% hydrogen peroxide for 1 minute before each appointment
- Escorted into an examination room
- Given a sterilized pen that will remain with them throughout the appointment and taken home at the end of the appointment: to be used for consents, financing, and payments.
- Asked about the presence of symptoms of a respiratory infection and history of travel or contact with possible COVID-19 patients.
- Assessed for respiratory symptoms and fever (with a non-contact digital infrared forehead thermometer) and they will be asked to sign a health declaration form.
- If a temperature of 100.2 degrees F or higher or respiratory symptoms are present, they will be advised to seek medical treatment and their visit will be rescheduled.
- As testing for the virus becomes more available, we will be incorporating this added benefit to screen patients as well as our team.
Measures taken upon arrival at the clinic:
- Remove all clutter and anything that is not easily disinfected from the waiting room (magazines, area rugs, pillows, toys, etc.)
- Cover all furniture that cannot be disinfected with disposable covers (including chairs and couches), which will be replaced after each patient
- Frequent wipe-down of waiting rooms, bathrooms, door handles, tables, light switches, computers, etc.
Reception area and front desk safety measures:
- Place air-handling systems (with appropriate filtration, exchange rate, etc.)
- The front desk team will be wearing masks
- If the patient is needing to be scheduled or needs financing, they will be escorted to a designated room where scheduling and payments will be handled to minimize front desk exposure.
Protocols of the Clinical Team
We adhere to the usual standard and transmission-based precautions in operatory but with greater attention to detail and ensure that procedures are followed consistently and correctly. Furthermore, a team member will be designated whose focus is on sterilization. This team member will be responsible for cleaning, sterilizing, disinfecting, and wiping down everything in the operatories and in the waiting room; chairs, handles, light switches, tables, etc. on a regular basis.
Hand hygiene is performed by our staff:
- Before and after all patient contact, contact with potentially infectious material, and before putting on and after removing personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves.
- After removing PPE in order to remove any pathogens that might have been transferred to bare hands during the removal process.
- Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Personal Protective Equipment
- Wear PPE (masks, gloves, cap, eye protection, face shields, gowns (N95 masks during aerosol procedures)
- Masks are one-time use and replace if soiled
- Surgical masks will have attachments to seal the mask
- Put on eye protection (i.e., goggles or a disposable face shield that covers the front and sides of the face) upon entry to the patient room or care area.
- Remove eye protection before leaving the patient room or care area.
- Reusable eye protection (e.g., goggles) must be cleaned and disinfected according to the manufacturer’s reprocessing instructions prior to re-use.
- Disposable eye protection should be discarded after use.
- Put on clean, new gloves upon entry into the patient room or care area.
- Change gloves if they become torn or heavily contaminated.
- Remove and discard gloves when leaving the patient room or care area, and immediately perform hand hygiene.
- Put on a clean isolation gown upon entry into the patient room or area.
- Change the gown if it becomes soiled. Remove and discard the gown in a dedicated container for waste or linen before leaving the patient room or care area. Disposable gowns should be discarded, and cloth gowns should be laundered after each use.
- Gowns should be prioritized for all aerosol-generating procedures and during activities where splashes and sprays are anticipated.
- These will be left at the office at the end of the day and disinfected.
Protocols During and After the Clinical Treatment
- We have invested in medical-grade air filtration systems
- When indicated, we will use specific air filtration oral systems to ensure our staff is protected.
- During this time, all hygiene doctor checks will be minimized to reduce the use of PPE. This will ensure lessening the shortage of PPE and minimizing social contact. If the Hygienist has a concern with a dental issue, she will first take a picture of the issue and have the Doctor consult via the messaging system. If the issue cannot be resolved in this manner, the Doctor will evaluate the patient.
- All non-disposable medical equipment used for patient care should be cleaned and disinfected according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Ensure that environmental cleaning and disinfection procedures are followed consistently and correctly.
- Routine cleaning and disinfection procedures (e.g., using cleaners and water to pre-clean surfaces prior to applying an EPA-registered, hospital-grade disinfectant to frequently touched surfaces or objects for appropriate contact times as indicated on the product’s label) are appropriate for SARS-CoV-2 in healthcare settings, including those patient-care areas in which aerosol-generating procedures are performed.
- As a final measure during a procedure that involves aerosols, a mobile ultra-low atomizer disinfection fogger (self-contained germicidal cleaning device that uses proven disinfectant technology to help reduce and eliminate bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens on environmental surfaces) will be used in that operatory prior to setting up for the next procedure.
Safety Measures After the Visit
- Patients wash their hands before leaving
- Patients who need to review fees and schedule future treatment will be moved to a room designated for such, so that the operative room can be thoroughly cleaned prior to the next appointment.
- Post-operative instructions will include a reminder to report any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 within the next 14 days.
We are confident that these guidelines will help to create a safe environment for all of our patients and team members and hope that you can feel secure in the knowledge that we are doing everything in our power to provide the safest clinical conditions in order to protect our patients, our team and our families.
- All operatories will be free of anything on the countertops
- The open cabinets will be covered with a curtain that can be wiped and disinfected
- Computers will be covered with plastic wraps
- Warm towels will not be offered at this time
- The coffee and juice bar will be closed at this time
- There will be no magazines or patient reading material available at this time in the reception area
Please review the COVID wellness survey below two days before your visit.
If you are displaying any of the symptoms of COVID-19, please call our office and reschedule your appointment. When you come to your appointment, please call us from the parking lot and we will review this survey one final time before entry into the office. Thank you for your support in keeping everyone healthy.
Dr. Abeyta, DDS