The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way that people manage their health. While some things are good, such as people being more cautious about the spread of germs, others may be a little more confusing. During the height of the pandemic, people were asked to avoid nonessential health care appointments. You might have even avoided a checkup out of concern for being exposed to the virus. Now, New York area dentists have begun to open up their offices for patients again.
The good news is that you can now feel comfortable going to the dentist since everyone understands more about how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. As a patient, you can follow these strategies for visiting the dentist safely.
Expect Your Appointment to Go Differently
In the past, you might have sat side by side other people in the waiting room. You might have even been able to bring along the rest of your family or arrive early to get in sooner. Now, however, your doctor may be following the recommended guidelines for scheduling appointments. For instance, you might be asked to limit how many people you bring with you to the office. You may also need to wait in the car until they call you inside for your exam.
Feel Free to Ask Questions
Asking your dental clinic’s staff about what they are doing to protect patients gives you a sense of reassurance. A large amount of the sanitation and hygiene procedures that dentists do goes unseen, and hearing about them can make you feel better. You can ask about how they sterilize equipment. Many patients also find it helpful to inquire about how the rest of the room is cleaned between patients. For instance, the CDC currently recommends a specific set of cleaning procedures to be done after aerosol-generating procedures.
Check Your Symptoms Beforehand
As common courtesy to your dental team and other patients, you should avoid going to an appointment if you are demonstrating symptoms of the coronavirus. Check your temperature before you leave for your appointment, and be aware that it might be checked again once you arrive at the office. If you think you might have been exposed to the virus, then call to reschedule your appointment for when you know it is safe.
Wear a Face Covering When Possible
Face coverings still remain to be one of the best ways that people can help to prevent spreading the virus to others. While you should have limited contact with people during your appointment, you may still be in close proximity to office staff and the occasional other patient. Wear a mask to your appointment, or let the staff know if you do not have one so that they can provide one for you. In return, you should see the office staff and your doctor are also wearing masks that are designed for infection control.
Practice Social Distancing in the Waiting Area
Waiting areas have also changed since the pandemic started. In most waiting areas, magazines and other distractions have been removed. Your wait should not be long, but it is best to stick to using your personal items to keep your mind occupied until your treatment time. If there are other people in the room, then stay at least six feet away.
Observe the Staff’s Protective Practices
You should also see the dental team following strict protocols to protect everyone’s safety from the time you walk into the building until your treatment is complete. Your dentist may wear a protective mask along with a face shield during certain procedures. They may pause during a procedure briefly to sanitize a surface or disinfect a piece of equipment. Although it is hard to maintain social distance during your treatment, you should also see the staff doing their best to stay six feet apart during parts of your appointment that do not require close contact.
Use Good Hygiene After Your Visit
Going to the dental clinic should be treated much the same as a trip to the grocery store. Wash your hands as soon a possible to remove any potential germs. If you cannot get to a sink, then use hand sanitizer. Finally, remember to remove your facial covering by touching the ear loops or straps, and place reusable ones in a plastic bag until you can get it laundered.
Top Long Island dentists have been helping patients work through their anxiety for many years. If you feel anxious about your appointment, then speak up. Your dental team can help you understand what they do to prevent the spread of germs while also giving you additional pointers for managing your health throughout the pandemic.
Native New Yorker. Travel addict. Hardcore thinker. Analyst. Pop culture fanatic. I live in Queens with my wife Linda and our dog Clemenza.