Dental offices make safety changes during pandemic

Posted at 10:10 AM, May 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 12:10:03-04

BOISE, Idaho — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many essential businesses and services are making changes to ensure safety. For dental offices, that includes new barriers and new practices before welcoming patients.

During Idaho's recent stay-at-home order, dental offices limited treatment to only emergency services and urgent care. Now, many offices are taking steps to expand care and include services like cleanings. However, they'll be met with a very different experience than in the past.

"The first thing is staggered scheduling. You're going to come in, and there will be limits on how many people you can bring through the office at a time," explains Dr. Jill Shelton Wagers, a dentist with Boise Bench Dentistry and president of the Idaho State Dental Association.

Dr. Wagers says patients should expect new screening protocols before and after they walk into the building.

"We're going to be asking questions when you make your appointment, when you confirm the appointment, when you're walking in in the morning or afternoon of your appointment, you'll have screening questions," says Dr. Wagers.

Patients will also be asked to sanitize their hands before walking into the practice and will have their temperature taken. Patients will also be asked to wait in their car before being escorted into the building.

Dr. Wagers says Boise Bench Dentistry is taking additional safety measures by introducing new Plexiglas barriers for their front office team. The practice is also increasing its HVAC and air filtration systems and using more personal protective equipment.

"The big N95 masks are in use. We also have the different surgical masks. You may see us in little sealing frames. Of course, we still have our loops and our eye protection, but you may also see us coming at you with face shields, just like you'd see in other medical groups," says Dr. Wagers.

Many offices are contacting patients to reschedule care that's been delayed by the pandemic, but if you're experiencing dental pain, contact your dentist and describe the symptoms. Dr. Wagers also suggests everyone brushes and flosses twice per day every day. It's also recommended you drink plenty of water and maintain a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, eggs, fish, and dairy products.

Before heading to your appointment, Dr. Wagers says pack your patience.

"It's going to be a little slower service so it's not just going to be a quick, get in and get your teeth cleaned," says Dr. Wagers. "We're going to be very methodical in making sure everybody is safe along the way."

To find out more about the state's response, click here. Recommendations from the American Dental Association can be found here.

If you find that you need a new dentist, click here.