The ADA Recently Released Information on the Coronavirus for Dental Professionals Based on the Guidelines Established by the CDC
The American Dental Association has released information specifically geared towards dental professionals relating to the currently spreading coronavirus now referred to as “COVID-19”.
It covers a variety of strategies for assisting in the prevention of the transmission of any suspected respiratory illness within the dental setting. It also answers questions that are currently being presented by individuals within the dental industry. All information contained within this release is based on the expertise and the guidelines that are specifically released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As a dental practitioner, you know and understand that you will see a variety of patients – some of which may be displaying signs of an underlying illness.
At this time, it is imperative that you are on heightened alert to those that may be suffering from a respiratory condition. Symptoms of the COVID-19 illness may be mild. Examples of these include fever, sore throat, cough, and breathing difficulties.
High-risk patients also include those that have recently traveled to locations recently that are known to have an outbreak, such as China.
- Should you come across a patient in your practice that has recently traveled abroad and/or is displaying symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, you should place them in a room designed for a single patient, isolated from others.
- They should also be provided with a face mask.
- You should then adhere to the infection control measures and respiratory hygiene guidelines.
- All members of your staff that identify such a patient should ensure that they are wearing protective clothing, gloves, eye protection, and a surgical face mask.
- Dental handpieces and all other dental instruments should be thoroughly cleaned before and after use.
Preventing Potential Issues Before Patient Appointments
If and when a patient develops an illness is often unforeseen and simply cannot be predicted; however, there are measures you can take to prevent potential issues from arising in your practice before a patient arrives for their appointment. The following outlines these strategies:
When making an appointment for your patient, inquire as to whether or not they have recently traveled abroad. If so, inquire as to what area. If it was an area with a high infection rate – such as China or South Korea – request that they make their appointment two weeks out.
When an appointment has been made with a patient in your dental practice, inform them that – should they become ill with symptoms such as a respiratory infection, runny nose, sore throat, fever, or cough – to call prior to their appointment for a reschedule.
If a patient has only mild symptoms and you elect to go ahead and let them keep their appointment, be certain to instruct them to wear a mask on their visit. Then, you can determine if the individual should be further isolated upon arrival.
Call to confirm the patient’s appointment within 24 hours of said appointment. Inquire about travel and any symptoms being experienced. Then, reschedule, based on your practice’s guidelines.
If you strongly feel that a particular patient has the COVID-19 virus, you should immediately contract services that specialize in infection prevention and control in your community, public health authorities, and other relevant individuals in the healthcare industry. They may then contact the patient for additional information and/or testing. Unless specified by the government or law enforcement, never hold a patient against their will.
Hygiene and Etiquette Measures
Due to the rapidly evolving situation associated with the COVID-19 virus, you should ensure that your office takes the appropriate measures in ensuring hygiene control. This means providing patients with alcohol-based hand sanitizing products that may be used, access to tissues, receptacles that do not require touch for operation and face masks.
These items should be made available at the entry point of your dental practice, in the waiting room, near the area where patients check-in for their appointment, in the restroom area, and within each of the rooms that patients use.
Protecting Dental Handpieces
Now that COVID-19 is spreading, it is advised that all of your dental handpieces are steam sterilized in-between each patient in which you must use them. You should refer to the manufacturing paperwork that came with your dental handpieces for guidelines on the proper cleaning, lubrication, and how to properly and safely sterilize your dental handpieces.
You should always make sure that the dental handpieces are properly maintained so that you may complete work on patients as quickly as possible during this time, without jeopardizing the quality of your work.
For more information on dental handpiece safety and/or maintenance, you may contact us today at Hughes Dental.