Now that most dental offices are open and providing nonemergency as well as emergency care, dental teams are returning to work after months of temporary closures due to COVID-19.

During this time, dental teams are following the recommended standard and additional interim infection prevention and control practices during the COVID-19 pandemic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure patient and provider safety as always.

CDC recommends using additional infection prevention and control practices, along with standard precautions recommended as a part of routine healthcare delivery to all patients. These practices are intended to apply to all patients, not just those with suspected or confirmed infections.

Read more from CDC — including about universal PPE recommendations.

 

‘Doing what we can’ to protect patients

Dental assistants are among those healthcare personnel “suiting up” as recommended. “I was covered from head to toe in PPE last week, including extra-thick gloves,” Melissa G. recently shared.

But doing this isn’t without its challenges. As Allison B. noted: “I feel safe, just warm.” Ivonne C. echoes: “In all this PPE, it’s very hard to breathe, and I sweat like I’ve been running all day.”

Allison B. and Cindy S. normally wear prescription glasses at work and admit that along with wearing eye protection comes lens fogging that can make it difficult to see. “It’s a challenge,” Cindy says.

Overall, dental assistants have observed that patients seem to appreciate the precautions in place. “The PPE changes are very obvious, and no one has questioned our protocol,” says Julie D.

Lee Anne R. agrees: “I’ve found patients are very appreciative that we’re there for them. Our office was open all along, with a skeleton crew of three. I love my patients and will do what I can for them. It’s my job, my passion.”

Dria L. also has had a positive experience working with pediatric patients during this time of heightened precaution: “There’s a picture of our dental team, without PPE, on the wall, and I always start the patient’s appointment by saying, ‘This is what I really look like underneath my astronaut suit.’ I try to keep it fun and silly for them, but I also say: ‘We are doing some things a little differently right now to make sure we keep everyone healthy.’”


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