Is it safe to visit the dentist or should I postpone my checkup for a month or two?
There has been a lot of press coverage about the closure of dental practices during the pandemic lockdown but, even now they've been given the go ahead to reopen, is it really safe to go or would it be better to wait until the country is fully back to normal?
The short answer is yes, it is safe to go to the dentist and, in fact, by delaying your examination, you run the risk of problems getting worse and needing more extensive treatment once they are eventually diagnosed. It's also important to remember that every dental practice is different but, equally, should adhere to the guidelines set out by the various regulatory and support bodies. Please also remember that the rules are different in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
So, what are we doing at AllClear Dental Centre in Croydon to keep you safe? Quite a lot, actually.
- All of our staff wear enhanced personal protective equipment (PPE) including, for clinical staff, visors, gowns, fit tested respirator masks and gowns.
- We'risk assess patients prior to their appointment and if there appears to be any risk that they could have the infection, we postpone the appointment.
- We check the temperature of all patients when they arrive and supply PPE including gloves and masks for them to wear while in the practice (patient masks are removed for treatment). Social distancing guidelines are observed at all times except during treatment.
- We've invested in new equipment to keep airborne droplets ('aerosols') to a minimum during treatment and to disinfect the surgeries between patients.
- We leave our surgeries empty for a period (currently normally one hour) after any treatment which generates 'aerosols' to give time for the ventilation to remove any residual particles and give time for disinfection.
- We keep our front door locked and only those with booked appointments are admitted to the practice. All other contact with patients and other members of the public is by phone or email. We have also replaced the paper forms for medical details with an online form which is emailed to all patients a day or two before their appointment.