During the pandemic, the places people tend to steer clear of are hospitals and clinics. This is because people are afraid that they might contract the coronavirus in these institutions. However, there are instances when people need to see a doctor for health purposes, one of which is visiting the dentist. But is it safe to go to the doctor now? Let’s find out.
Is it safe to go to the doctor now?
Dental procedures involve the dentist touching the mouth of the patient using several dental instruments. This is risky since the dentist will be in direct contact with the patient’s saliva.
Since coronavirus can spread via saliva droplets, fomite, and aerosol, the virus can easily transfer by close contact. Being at a dentist’s clinic makes you at risk of acquiring COVID-19 since certain procedures use mechanical instruments. Ultrasonic scalers, air-water syringes, and dental drills are instruments that emit bioaerosol and spatter that might contain the virus.
Dentists are also at high risk of acquiring the coronavirus during procedures where they are too close to the patient. If the patient is COVID-19 positive, the people inside the clinic may also have a higher chance of contracting the disease.
Because of the risks that come with dental procedures, health and safety protocols must be assured for the sake of the patients and practitioners.
Safety protocols when visiting the dentist
To prevent the spread of the coronavirus the Department of Health and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has made wearing face masks and face shields mandatory in public areas like markets and shopping malls.
For health institutions like hospitals and clinics, it is vital for staff members to wear PPEs for added protection. Also, sanitation of the premises must be a priority, since the virus is transmissible via contaminated surfaces.
Before visiting the dentist, dental clinics nowadays, require their patients to book an appointment. Patients must undergo evaluation over the phone to ensure that they don’t experience symptoms of COVID-19.
In dental clinics, plastic dividers are often placed in reception areas to prevent close contact between the staff and people from outside. All staff members are also required to wear PPE to protect themselves from the virus.
The clinic must observe strict sanitation, especially of surfaces that people often touch like door handles, countertops, and chairs. Nowadays, a lot of clinics have air purifiers with HEPA filters, which help trap harmful particles in the air.
Before having the procedure, patients must undergo temperature checks as well as health evaluations. Some clinics encourage their patients to undergo a rapid test to confirm if the patient is COVID negative.
Being a dentist during the pandemic is a high-risk profession, thus having a strict disinfection protocol is needed to ensure the safety of the patients and the staff. To assure the safety of everyone, patients are encouraged to refrain from visiting the dentist, especially if it’s a non-emergency dental procedure.
What to ask your dentist?
To know if it’s safe to go to the doctor now, it is best if you call your dentist before visiting the clinic. Here are some questions you can ask your dentist to make sure if your safety is their priority.
Ask your dentist if patients need to undergo health evaluation over the phone.
The patient’s evaluation is the most important part of every doctor’s visit to ensure that the patient isn’t experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19.
Inquire if all staff members undergo regular COVID-19 testing.
Dentists, dental hygienists, and other staff members must undergo routine COVID-19 testing to reduce the possibilities of viral transmission.
Ask for the number of people allowed inside the clinic.
During the pandemic, dental clinics cannot accept the usual number of patients. Limiting the number of people in the clinic is important to continue the practice of social distancing.
Make sure to inquire about their disinfection protocols.
If you’re going to undergo a dental procedure, you must know how and when spaces are cleaned after each patient.
Ask if there is disinfection equipment available that helps prevent the spread of the virus.
It is safe to go to the doctor/ dentist if their clinics are equipped with HEPA filters and UV light, which acts as added protection for people inside the establishment.
After your visit, sanitize properly so the people you are with at home stay safe and protected.
So is it safe to go to the doctor now like your dentist during the pandemic? Visiting the doctor or any health institutions during the pandemic may come with added risk. Even practitioners recommend that you don’t visit the establishment if it isn’t a dental emergency. Alternatively, setting an appointment with them is advisable. This is to minimize the risk of getting in contact with a person who might be COVID positive.
It is important to note that being extra cautious is not just for your safety but for the safety of others as well.
Learn more about COVID-19, here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.