In a wonderful community like ours, going to the dentist is about more than simply getting your teeth cleaned or having a cavity filled. While services such as these are vitally important to one’s health, what people really look forward to is catching up with their dental hygienist they’ve known for years, seeing a neighbor, or even bumping into their former teacher from Buda Elementary. The relationships that exist within the four walls of a dental practice are special, and it isn’t uncommon to hear people laughing down the hall, or see a nervous patient receiving a big hug after a visit. This is part of what makes the community of Buda so tight-knit! However, with the COVID-19 pandemic shaking up our world, many are left wondering what it will be like the next time they visit their dentist. Will it still feel welcoming? Will it still be safe? What has changed?
The first difference might be noticed during a call to schedule. Many will be asked a series of screening questions, and may find that appointment availability is more limited than usual. The Texas State Board has asked offices to modify scheduling practices to streamline the flow of patients, minimizing the number of people congregating in common areas…which means less availability. But don’t lose heart if you are asked to book your appointment a few weeks out – your dental team will ensure you are well taken care of! Another important change is that patients may not bring a companion to their appointment, unless the patient requires assistance (pediatric/special needs/elderly).
Patients might also notice that they won’t be able to see the usual beaming smiles when they arrive, as most practices are asking ALL team members to wear masks. So look for those smiling eyes instead! The clinical team will also look a little different, as new PPE (personal protective equipment) protocols are in place. You will be asked to do a pre-treatment rinse, and all procedures involving a dental aerosol will be done with an isolation device, such as a dental dam. Your cleaning will be somewhat different as well – you might feel you’ve taken a trip back in time! Currently, the State Board has suspended the use of ultrasonic instrumentation for routine cleanings because of the aerosols they create…so hygienists are hand-scaling and rubber cup polishing only. There is an exception for those undergoing deep cleanings for active gum disease; these procedures will be done with an isolation device, as mentioned earlier.
After reading this, it’s easy to feel that the dental home you’ve grown to know & love won’t be the same…it’s hard for your dentist, too! Relationships with patients are what fill our cup. Having the freedom to give a hug, or just sit and visit with a patient are some of the most important services we provide. We know, though, that safety measures taken during this time are necessary. They won’t last forever! And the physical “distance” we are currently required to have will never translate to distance in our hearts. We believe the community of Buda will rise from this challenging time even closer than before!