COVID-19 has left almost no aspect of our lives unchanged, and that includes our routine appointments with the dentist. In this post, we’ll discuss the rules and regulations regarding seeing our Fort St. John dentists during these uncertain times.
Staying Safe While Preserving Oral Health
Many patients wonder if it’s safe to visit their dentist while COVID-19 is still with us. In late spring/early summer 2020, many restrictions were lifted in provinces across Canada and patients could see their dentist and orthodontist again. But you may notice that their office looks very different, and there are protocols to follow to keep staff and patients safe.
While attending dental and orthodontic appointments is key to your oral health, there are health questions and concerns that come up just in the act of coming in for your appointment. Because the pandemic is still happening, extra precautions are needed to ensure everyone stays safe.
New Rules & Regulations Under COVID-19
For your dentist's or orthodontist’s office to stay open during the pandemic, all updated safety rules from provincial regulating bodies and governments must be met. Dental professionals must adhere to this guidance, along with the most up-to-date information from their province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health when providing care. This includes:
- Scheduling appointments to allow patients to physically distance. There must also be time for treatment areas to be disinfected between each appointment. Keep in mind that everyone is now on a time crunch, and that may mean you need to book an appointment further ahead or that there will be less flexibility in your orthodontist’s daily schedule.
- Potentially waiting outside. Depending on the office, you may be asked to wait outside and call when you arrive. You’ll be notified when it’s appropriate to enter.
- Socially distanced waiting rooms. You’ll find chairs are spaced 2 metres apart. There will be no magazines, toys or other non-essential items as we try to reduce the number of touchable surfaces.
- Answering screening questions. Before your appointment, your orthodontist or their staff will ask you pre-screening questions to learn whether you have any symptoms of COVID-19. You’ll need to answer these questions again when you arrive on the day of your appointment, in addition to having your temperature taken with a touchless thermometer.
- Using hand sanitizer. When you arrive, you’ll be asked to use a 70 to 90 percent alcohol-based solution, or soap and water, upon entering or leaving the office.
- Rescheduling appointments for sick patients. If you have any flu-like symptoms (difficulty breathing, cough, fever), or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, please stay home. If you have an upcoming orthodontic appointment, please call your orthodontic office to report symptoms, reschedule or inquire about other care options.
- Wearing a face mask. Except for while you are being treated, you will be asked to wear a face mask or covering while in your orthodontist’s office.
- Protective gear for office staff and orthodontists. In addition to surgical face masks, your orthodontist and their staff will wear correct personal protective equipment (PPE) during in-person appointments.
- Attending your appointment alone. Plan to attend your appointment alone, as fewer people in the office is always better. Exceptions are made for children and people who require assistance. If the patient needs a parent or caregiver, that person will also be subject to all screening questions/measures.
- Paying via touchless payment. Plan to use your debit card or credit card to pay any balance owing on your appointment.
Do you have an orthodontic emergency and are wondering what to do? Call your dentist and tell them about your situation. They will be able to provide advice on which steps to take. If you need to visit the office, they will let you know if they can help you or direct you to another orthodontist or emergency clinic.
What is an orthodontic emergency?
Orthodontic emergencies can involve:
- Broken orthodontic appliances, or wires poking into your cheek that you can’t fix yourself temporarily.
- Experiencing an intense amount of pain that can’t be resolved by taking over-the-counter pain medication or rinsing with saltwater to reduce inflammation.
In these cases, call our practice as soon as possible and we can get you in as soon as possible. In the meantime, ice the affected area. If part of your orthodontic appliance has broken, try to find it, and bring it along to your appointment.