Dentists Re-Opened - but is it back to business?
After months of reduced dental care, and lots of DIY home dentistry, those of your ready to take out your own teeth can now put your pliers away. Dentists are set to reopen on the 8th of June.
However, is it going to be business as usual? Is it time to ring up to book your scale and polish? Here's a quick guide of what to expect going back to the dentist in the current COVID-19 climate.
Your dentist might not actually be open
Dentists were informed that they were expected to reopen at the same time it was announced to the public. The 5 pm press conference giving Dentists the go-ahead came as a surprise to all of us as we had not being given any advance warning.
That gives dental practices just over a week to get ready. Not all practices will be able to implement the correct social distancing procedures or source the correct PPE at such short notice.
It's also important to note that some Dentists themselves may be unable to return to work because they are classed as vulnerable or shielded.
But rest assured Dental Practices will be working hard to make sure they can get back up and running whilst keeping you and their staff safe. They just may not have it all ready for the 8th of June.
You may have to wait - even if they are open
We've been closed over 2 months now and most Dentists will have a backlog of patients in pain who need urgent care. With social distancing and new infection control guidelines Dentists may be very limited on how many patients they can see a day. Particularly at the start it is likely the urgent cases will be prioritised - so you may have to wait a bit longer for your next routine exam or scale and polish.
We may look a bit different...
New PPE guidelines mean that for certain procedures we may look slightly different from what you may be used too.
Masks can make it difficult to hear and communicate clearly with each other at times, so a bit of patience might be needed. It can be a bit daunting but just try and remember its your same friendly dentist underneath that mask!
...But probably not as different as your expecting
On the flip side, you might be alarmed by how we look pretty much the same! For most routine check-ups our PPE will be similar to normal - a surgical mask and a visor.
Don't worry you're still safe and protected and it's all following current Government Guidelines!
You may have to attend alone
Socially distancing means we need to keep our waiting rooms and clinics as empty as possible. This means you won't be able to bring your whole entourage with you (they can however stay in the car). Exceptions can be made for children who need to attend with a parent and carers. If in doubt contact your practice before your appointment and see what they advise.
Our practices will look a bit different
And you may have to bring your own pen. We've been advised to put up a screen at reception to protect our staff and patients. You may be asked to stay in the car if you are early until the dentist is ready to see you. About the pens? Well, sharing pens is not ideal it may be handy to bring your own!
Also, there will be no magazines, books or toys in our waiting rooms anymore, so you'll have to bring your own reading material. To comply with social distancing our chairs will be spaced 2 meters apart.
Don't be offended if we ask you to wash your hands!
There is likely to be a hand washing / sanitizing station when you enter. It's also very likely you'll miss it. So we may give you a gentle reminder to use it - its nothing personal we're sure you do wash your hands! We just want to keep the practice as safe as possible for other patients and our staff.
All treatment options may not be available
Certain procedures require certain specialist PPE - and they are currently very difficult to get a hold-off. Limited supply is likely to be saved for emergency cares - if they manage to get their hands on any at all. Your dentist will still go through and explain all your options- they may just have to explain that they may not be able to provide all of the options themselves.
You will have the option to continue with the treatments they can provide, or seek care elsewhere.
You will be asked about symptoms and may have your temperature checked.
One of the first questions you'll be asked if you're presenting with any signs of COVID-19 - (shortness of breath or fever) or if someone in your household is isolating. You may also have your temperature checked when you enter. Please be as truthful as possible -there are dedicated centres open to treat patients with Covid -19 . But the average dental practice is not where you should be and you will be a danger to others.
Similarly please let your Dentist know if you are classed as vulnerable or shielding, so arrangements may be made to keep you as safe as possible.
Dentists will be looking forward to welcoming you all back. Contrary to popular belief we are dedicated to getting you OUT of pain (not causing you pain). However, this is all new territory to us too. We ask for a bit of patience while we get back up and running!
Its always best to check with your Dental Practice and see what their procedures are, as everyone will vary slightly!