Orthodontics and COVID-19: How Your Orthodontist Is Protecting You
Last year, we experienced something that many never thought to go through in their lifetime: A global pandemic.
Unfortunately, we haven’t rounded the curve yet. We’re still dealing with the coronavirus. It’s impacting every part of our life – from the way we work to how we socialize.
It’s even affecting how people take care of their health.
Most people avoid going to the doctor and dentist out of an abundance of caution. However, we can’t put the treatments we need on hold forever.
What’s the latest about orthodontia and COVID-19? We’ll explain what your Gardena orthodontist is doing to keep you and your family safe.
What Are the Challenges Facing Orthodontists During the Pandemic?
During 2020, federal, state, and local governments discouraged patients from going to the dentist for routine dental care. For a time, only dental emergency services were permitted.
When there seemed to be a lull in the number of COVID cases, offices were allowed to open their practice to a limited number of patients and only if they followed strict guidelines.
While we all understand the importance of these guidelines, putting healthcare treatments (including dental treatments) on hold can cause a lot of damage.
Even putting off orthodontic treatment, which many people view as elective, can cause some problems. Orthodontic treatment is not something that’s simply cosmetic. It can reduce the risk of:
- Dental decay
- Gum disease
- Painful conditions, such as TMJ disorder
- Broken teeth
- Cracked tooth syndrome
Good dental health contributes to good overall health. We’ve seen over the past few years that people with gum disease are at a higher risk of developing other diseases, including heart disease.
Unfortunately, when we’re not able to treat our patients, they are at higher risk for these dental and general health conditions.
A New Challenge: COVID-19 and Its Variants
Many people thought we’d be well beyond the COVID pandemic by summer 2020.
Yet, here we are, a year later and the virus is still spreading.
The numbers are staggering: Over 25 million people in the US have contracted coronavirus and over 430,000 people have died from it in this country.
We’re also dealing with coronavirus variants and mutations, including those from the UK, South Africa, Brazil, and even one from California.
The new variants are more transmissible, meaning they spread more easily from person to person. That’s not good news for people who need dental and medical care.
But it’s impossible to shut down healthcare services completely. In fact, it wouldn’t be responsible to do this. Patients need care from doctors and dentists – even in a pandemic.
What’s the solution?
Thankfully, more people are gaining access to the coronavirus vaccines, and it seems that (so far) the vaccines are successful in reducing the risk of getting the COVID-19 variants, as well as the original strain.
What are we to do until most people are vaccinated?
Your Gardena orthodontist, Dr. Hamid, and his team are committed to keeping you safe by sticking to the strict CDC safety guidelines.
Orthodontia and COVID-19: What Are Dental Practitioners Doing to Keep Patients Safe?
The CDC safety guidelines have been in place since the beginning of the pandemic. They’re just as useful now – if not more so – as they were at the beginning of the pandemic.
Here’s a look at what we are doing to help protect the health of our patients and our team.
Reschedule or Postpone Elective Treatments
Local governments are constantly monitoring the case count and COVID-19 patient hospital admissions. Based on those numbers, the state has tiers that allow for more relaxed guidelines at times.
If the numbers change, the stricter restrictions go back into effect. During those instances, we don’t recommend any elective treatments. Our team will reschedule patients until a safer time period. We are available for emergency situations, such as a broken arch wire or bracket or if a patient is in pain.
Patient Screening and Information
The CDC recommends placing signs throughout the office reminding patients to practice social distancing. These signs might also indicate where patients can find a hand washing or sanitizing station.
Regarding screening, many offices will ask patients if they’ve had any cold or flu symptoms 24-28 hours prior to their appointment. If the patient says they have had such symptoms, the appointment will be rescheduled.
Another way healthcare providers are screening patients is with a temperature scan. If the patient has a normal temperature, they’re able to see their dentist or orthodontist that day. If they have even the slightest fever, they must reschedule.
Universal Control Measures
We always practice universal control measures, which include having each member of our team wearing a mask and gloves.
PPE (personal protective equipment) has changed a bit during COVID-19 – both for the patients and for the dental team.
Patients are asked to wear a mask at all times unless they’re undergoing treatment. If they do not come to their appointment with a mask, one will be provided to them.
Doctors and their team are urged by the CDC to wear a cloth mask while in the office, and then change to a surgical mask/respirator during actual procedures.
More dental teams are also implementing surgical gowns and face shields.
In-Office Diagnostic Testing
Some offices have in-office, rapid COVID-19 testing. This option isn’t 100% foolproof as the speed may not be fast enough, such tests may not be available, and some of these tests aren’t completely accurate.
Other dentists require that patients provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before they’ll see their patients.
The CDC recommends that chairs in the waiting rooms be six feet apart. They also recommend that staff members remain six feet apart while eating or on break.
Another recommendation is to have patients call our office when they arrive. Instead of waiting in the reception area, they wait in their car. When Dr. Hamid is ready to see them, we’ll call the patient and invite them into the office.
Your Safety Is Our #1 Priority
We will always do everything in our power to keep you and your family safe when you visit our office.
In order to continue practicing, we must complete infection control courses regularly. These courses teach us about microorganisms like the coronavirus that can risk our patients’ health. They also teach us the latest products, tools, and techniques we can use to prevent microbe transmission.
We take the information we garner from these courses very seriously and implement the best techniques and use the best products available.
During these unprecedented times, we want you to know that we take your health and wellness seriously. We will never put you or your family at risk. Your safety is our main priority – and it will continue to be even after we eradicate COVID-19.
Do you have a dental issue that requires immediate care? Contact us right away to schedule an appointment.