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Our office has always adhered to the stringent procedures outlined in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings. The thorough and rigorous cleaning, sterilization and disinfection of all instruments and surfaces are routine and second nature to us, as they are throughout dentistry - these precautions make dental offices highly uncommon sources of disease transmission. We’d like to explain the many steps we always follow to keep you, and ourselves, safe, including the additional precautions we have implemented specifically to address COVID-19.
How We Sanitize Exam and Treatment Rooms: Before you enter the exam room, all surfaces have been cleaned and disinfected, including the dental chair, overhead light, drawer handles, countertops, and sinks. Basically, we sanitize everything that has been touched or could have been touched. Any protective covers that are necessary are replaced and disposed of for every patient as well. The solutions we use are professional-grade and designed specifically for clinical environments. We also wash our hands with soap and water and use hand sanitizer on our hands frequently throughout the day and always before and after any patient contact.
How We Sterilize Instruments: Our non-disposable items like handpieces (commonly known as drills) and other instruments, are carefully cleaned and sterilized in a designated area of our practice using hospital-grade equipment. It’s not like washing dishes at home. We use precision tools like ultrasonic cleaning followed by high-temperature autoclaves to sterilize. We also use both in house testing daily and third party testing weekly to monitor these processes and ensure they are working up to their complete sterilization levels. We visually monitor all instruments after the sterilization process and keep them in sealed packages until they are opened for use for each patient chair-side. After opening these sterile packages the contents are only touched with clean gloved hands. Once again, cleaners, detergents and other chemicals being used are designed specifically for clinical and not household use. We are proud of our state-of-the-art sterilization system and would gladly show off our process if any of our patients are interested.
How We Use Disposable Items: We use as many unit does and disposable items as possible, such as needles, gloves, masks, suction, and air/water syringe tips. We also place barriers on items that go into patients mouths to ensure cross contamination will not occur from instruments such as on dental curing lights and x-ray sensors. Many of you have experienced treatment with two different types of intraoral suction devices we have been using in our office called Isolite and the ReLeafs. These plastic mouthpieces are also designated for use only on a single patient and are disposed of after your visit. After each patient, disposable items are carefully discarded according to current guidelines.
How We Are Responding To COVID-19: We are taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 including:
How We Are Protecting Ourselves: In order for us to provide safe dental care to all of our valued patients, we have to ensure the safety of the work environment of our dental team. We have recently upgraded some of the Personal Protective Equipment we will be using daily in our office to align or surpass the CDC’s new guidelines. This
equipment includes but is not limited to surgical gowns that are laundered in a medical service facility, face shields, head coverings, custom 3-D printed face mask frames on top of surgical masks or N95 and KN95 masks. Also employees will have separate shoes that are used only in the office and so they will not bring in any outside contaminants. We may appear a bit more “surgical” in our gear than most of our patients have been accustomed to in the past but be assured we are still giving you the same big smiles under all of this new gear that you are used to! Like you, we have families and loved ones who rely on us to work safely and not bring home any germs to them at the end of the day.
How We Are Welcoming You Back: You’ll notice some changes in advance of your next dental appointment. We will be calling or electronically contacting you prior to your arrival date to screen you for any symptoms which would require us to postpone your appointment. If any of the answers to these screening questions point to the fact that you may have been exposed to or have symptoms of COVID-19 we will direct you to your healthcare provide for testing and/or treatment. On that call or email we can also answer any questions you may have and further explain our new procedures for when you arrive to your appointment. Once you do arrive, we will again ask you these same screening questions to ensure nothing has changed since our last conversation with you and we will be taking your temperature. While we understand that these additional safety procedures may be inconvenient, they are necessary to ensure we are doing everything we can to protect all of our patients as well as our team.
Dental care is vital to stay healthy and prevent minor issues from progressing into painful, complex and more costly conditions! Please rest assured that our office is likely one of the most thoroughly cleaned and disinfected environments you can possibly be in. We’ve missed you, and look forward to serving you again.
Charity Duncan, DDS Parag Kachalia, DDS