Is routine dentistry safe?
Posted by: Jodie Blades Diploma Level 3 in Dental Nursing
Medically reviewed by: Dr Anthony Lam BDS (Hons), MSc (Lond), MOrth RCS (Edin)
We are committed to making routine dentistry safe!
Holland Park Dental Centre wants to reassure you it is not our policy for you to avoid routine dental appointments and that it is safe to attend for both routine exams and emergency treatments.
The practice is committed to protecting both its staff and our patients and has implemented above and beyond the advised COVID-19 risk measures.
Related: COVID-19 Saftey Measures
Why routine dentistry IS safe
We’ve installed medical-grade air purification filters
The practice has installed air filters in both the surgeries and in communal areas.
- Kill viruses and bacteria with high-performance UVC technology
- The enhanced UVC technology within the DentAir system successfully de-contaminates the air. With one UVC lamp running through the unit, DentAir emits 24W of power to effectively damage the DNA/RNA of viruses, bacteria and other pathogens found in the air of a dental surgery.
- Disperse purified air around your surgery in a matter of minutes
- The average dental surgery is around 40m3, and the DentAir system’s airflow is 600m3/hour (+/- 10%)* per hour – this means our unit can recirculate the air in an average surgery once every four minutes. This equates to 15 cycles per hour, above the industry recommendation of 6 cycles per hour.
We’ve eliminated paper forms and cash payments
You will be asked to fill out secure forms that we have embedded in our website and to prepay for your appointments with an e-payment link.
- COVID-19 can be transmitted by touching infected droplets on surfaces, then touching the eyes, nose or mouth.
- Eliminating the use of paper and pens, eliminated the risk posed by touch transmission.
Patient PPE and Social Distancing
You will be asked to wear a mask to your dental appointment and arrive on time, not early. We have removed a number of chairs in the waiting room in order to observe social distancing a reduce the number of people in the practice at any one time.
- The maximum distance of a respiratory droplet flight is about 6 feet, which is why social distancing and mask wear is important in communal practice areas.
- Masks create an effective barrier against droplets – protecting both the wearer and people around them.
We screen for COVID symptoms not once, but twice.
The practice has a strict COVID booking policy that means you’re required to pass 2 COVID screens and temperature check before you attend your appointment. If you fail the screen or present with symptoms or a temperature you will be asked to return home, contact 111 and rebook a minimum of 14 days later.
We also COVID screen all of the staff every morning to ensure we are not presenting a risk to each other and to our patients and to make routine dentistry safe.
The most common symptoms are new:
- continuous cough
- fever/high temperature (37.8C or greater)
- loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste (anosmia)
A new continuous cough is where you:
- have a new cough that’s lasted for an hour
- have had 3 or more episodes of coughing in 24 hours
- are coughing more than usual
If you are presenting with these symptoms please call NHS 111, see a full list of symptoms here on the NHS website.
We wear enhanced Personal Protective Equipment
It is impossible to observe social distancing while treating patients. Some appointments are extremely low risk, like exams and orthodontics where aerosols and respiratory vapour droplets are not generated. For appointments that require high pressured air and or water and the use of dental drills and handpieces, the clinicians and nurses will wear the highest level of Personal Protective Equipment including respiratory masks, visors, long sleeve gowns and double gloves. The vapours and aerosols created in your appointment DO NOT pose a risk to you, they are your germs and bacteria.
Filtering facepiece class 3 (FFP3) respirators
Respirators are used to prevent inhalation of small airborne particles arising from AGPs.
All respirators should:
- be well fitted, covering both nose and mouth
- not be allowed to dangle around the neck of the wearer after or between each use
- not be touched once put on
- be removed outside the patient room or cohort area or COVID-19 ward
Respirators can be single use or single session use (disposable) and fluid-resistant. Note that valved respirators are not fully fluid-resistant unless they are also ‘shrouded’. Valved, non-shrouded FFP3 respirators are not considered to be fluid resistant and therefore should be worn with a full face shield if blood or body fluid splashing is anticipated.
FFP3 respirators filter at least 99% of airborne particles. The HSE states that all staff who are required to wear an FFP3 respirator must be fit tested for the relevant model to ensure an adequate seal or fit
We use pre-operative mouth rinse and rubber dam
Where your treatment requires a dental handpiece or a drill, you’ll be asked to rinse your mouth with a preoperative rinse. This is to reduce the potential risk of infected saliva droplets. We also use a rubber dam which acts as a physical barrier – keeping your saliva one side of the dam and the tooth and the dental drill the other, all but eliminating the risk of infected vapour droplets being generated into an aerosol.
Rinsing with 1.5% peroxide for 60 seconds reduces viral load and disinfects the throat. Peroxide drops coronavirus replication by >4 logs. In practice, Peroxyl is a peroxide-based mouthwash that we use routinely.
Placing a rubber dam around a tooth and creating a seal and disinfecting the tooth prior to drilling all but eliminates the airborne virus droplets.
For more information on the other measures we’re taking to keep routine dentistry safe, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to share with you more details of our covid-19 operating procedures.
Why you should not avoid routine dental treatment
Dentistry is a proactive service and should rarely be reactive to an emergency situation. Routine and preventative treatments keep your teeth and your gums healthy and free from dental disease. Regular check-ups allow for early diagnosis of oral cancers, periodontal disease, decay and gum disease.
Avoiding routine treatments can lead to many complaints:
- tooth loss
- tooth mobility
- root canal treatment
- bone loss
- and more…
So please, unless you are high risk or vulnerable, or travelling to us presents a risk, please do not avoid routine dental treatment. You can rest assured that routine treatment is safe and that the practice has gone above and beyond to ensure yours and our safety. Our duty of care is to you and your dental health and we would like to maintain it with you.
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