The COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot of things about our daily lives. Your regular visits to the dentist have changed, too.
The ADA has developed science-based guidance to dentists on extra steps they can take, in addition to the infection control procedures they’ve always followed, to help protect their patients and staff.
These additional steps are working. Studies show that COVID-19 infection rates among dentists are very low and remain lower than rates for other healthcare workers. A study published in June 2021, for example, found that monthly infection rates for dentists were as low as 0.2%.
Here’s what you can expect at your next appointment.
Before Your Appointment
To help make sure that patients arriving for their appointments are healthy, your dental office may call you before your appointment and ask you some questions about your health and vaccination status. They may also repeat these questions when you arrive to make sure nothing has changed.
Your dentist’s office staff may also ask that you limit the number of people you bring to the appointment. That could mean leaving your children at home or allowing older children to go into the office alone while their parent waits outside during their appointment.
At Your Appointment
If your state or local government or your dentist’s practice is requiring people to wear masks in public, be sure to wear one to your appointment or one will be provided. When you enter the office, you may have your temperature taken, screening questions asked, and seats may be spaced apart.
Inside the office, they may have hand sanitizer available for you to use and are wiping down items and areas that people often touch.
When you’re in the dental chair, you may notice some things look different from the last time you were there. The dentist may have covered the computer’s keyboard with a disposable cover so it can be easily cleaned between patients, for example. Your dentist may also be using different protective equipment than they’ve used at previous appointments. This could include different masks, face shields, gowns and goggles. These additional precautions help protect both you and the dentist.
After Your Appointment
Just like they did before you sat in the chair, the staff will thoroughly clean the areas where you’ve been using disinfectants that are effective against the virus that causes COVID-19 to prepare for the next patient. This helps reduce the risk of illness being passed to others.
If you start feeling ill with the symptoms of COVID-19 within two days of your appointment, call the dental office – even if you’ve been vaccinated. You may have already been carrying the virus at the time of your appointment, so anyone who came into contact with you during that time could be at risk for getting sick too.
Remember, regular dental visits are an essential part of your overall heath. Your ADA dentist will make sure your visit is as safe as possible for everyone involved.