The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way people live, work, and go about their daily lives.
If you’re wondering what to expect at your next dentist appointment during COVID-19, there are a few important things to know.
Whether it’s a routine cleaning or emergency dental services, read on to learn about how you can smile safely after a visit to the dentist.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, many dental offices are asking patients about their health status before they arrive for an appointment. Be prepared to answer a few simple questions to ensure that you’re fever-free and not feeling any symptoms of the coronavirus or another illness.
Some localities are allowing for emergency dental services only. Call the office before you make an appointment and find out if they’re able to provide standard services like x-rays and cleanings.
Most medical and dental offices are limiting the number of visitors that are allowed into the building. If possible, try to go to your dental appointment alone to help your dentist keep those numbers down. Most offices will allow exceptions for parents with small children and for those who require assistance from caregivers.
If your appointment requires heavy sedation or medications that will make it difficult to drive, ask someone to pick you up after you call them when the appointment is over. You can also have someone wait in the parking lot or come back later when your appointment is complete.
Plan ahead for your visit and bring a mask with you if you have one. Some offices may require you to wear a special mask, but it’s always best to have your own just in case.
Arriving at Your Dentist Appointment During COVID-19
On the day of your appointment, make sure you arrive a bit early just in case you need to wait outside until someone else leaves the office. This is typically done to ensure that there aren’t too many people in the lobby or the actual patient areas at any given time.
Wear a mask when you enter the building and leave it on until you’re asked to remove it. Some dentist offices are also taking the temperature of anyone who comes inside, so it’s good to be prepared for this just in case.
In many instances, you might notice that things like children’s toys and magazines are no longer in the lobby. Since COVID-19 can be spread by touching infected surfaces, your dentist may have decided to have these items removed. Bring your smartphone with you if you want to read something or stay entertained while you wait.
Your dentist should have hand sanitizer available but it’s always a good idea to bring a small bottle with you, too. They may also wipe down anything you touch like writing instruments, clipboards, tables, and any hard surfaces like countertops. Chairs in the waiting room should be spaced apart at a distance of at least six feet to ensure proper social distancing.
During Your Appointment
Your dentist will likely be wearing much more PPE (personal protective equipment) than normal. For example, he or she may wear a face shield over a medical face mask for extra protection. Expect the dental assistants to also have additional PPE throughout your visit.
The keyboard of computers and the handles of tools and equipment may have a disposable cover over them to protect surfaces from droplets and germs. You’ll likely be asked to put on a pair of goggles to protect your eyes throughout the dental procedure.
As your dentist cleans or works on your teeth, there may be a clear plexiglass cover over your face. This is another protective measure to prevent airborne droplets from getting into your face and the dentist’s face while they work.
If you need to cough or sneeze, try your best to alert your dentist before you do so. This will give them time to move away or to let you go to the restroom before they proceed with the procedure. A dentist appointment during COVID-19 will feel different, but it shouldn’t be too stressful as long as you know what to expect.
Caring for Your Teeth During COVID-19
If you’re concerned about seeing your dentist during this time, it’s best to take good care of your oral health. Continue to brush and floss your teeth daily and use quality products that contain fluoride to prevent cavities from forming.
Practice some extra safety measures at home during this time, like cleaning your toothbrush thoroughly and covering it after every use. Maintain a healthy diet, try to exercise, and practice common sense when it comes to taking care of your health.
It’s impossible to predict the future, and emergencies will always arise. If you’re in pain or you are concerned about your teeth, don’t hesitate to call your dentist and ask if they’re taking emergency appointments.
Visit the Dentist Today
Although a dentist appointment during COVID-19 is different from what you’re used to, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take steps to protect your oral health. Contact your dentist and ask about appointments, and take a few extra steps to keep yourself and others protected from the coronavirus.
With the right procedures in place, visiting the dentist is a perfectly safe activity. Plan ahead by making arrangments if you need someone to drive and wear a mask at all times while you’re at the dentist’s office.