Great news! On May 6th, Premier Horgan announced that dental offices can plan to reopen in the near future. We have not been given a precise date for commencement, and our College of Dental Surgeons has not yet given us the affirmation either. We envision opening in late May or early June. We know that we will still have to adhere to principles of distancing and limitation of contacts that we have all become very familiar with recently. It will be a ‘soft’ opening where we will only be seeing a few patients per day to determine the work flow and the timing, and we can minimize the number of people within the office at any given time. We ask for your patience, as these procedures will now take more time. Our first group of patients we see will be those with broken teeth and emergencies that occurred over the last 8 weeks. We will then phase in the cleanings and examinations shortly thereafter. If you had previously booked an appointment before the quarantine in May or June, you can assume your appointment is cancelled. For those who have booked after June, we will be contacting you to adjust the time, creating a new schedule that allows for distancing and minimal contacts, and so will be seeing fewer patients per day than before the crisis.
As always, the priority is a safe environment for our staff and our patients. We have made changes to the office to minimize contacts. We will have installed plexiglass barriers on the reception desks. Unfortunately, we will no longer have a waiting area. We will likely have to text or call you when we are ready for you to come in. There likely will not be a bathroom available because this is an area of high cross contamination. When you arrive, we want to get you in directly to the treatment rooms.
It has been difficult to get personal protective equipment (PPE) at this time. We had given ours away at the beginning of the quarantine, and now we are trying to source the gear in a time of high demand. When you see us, we will be covered in the PPE, and you might not even recognize us. As you can guess, this PPE is expensive, and really not utilized well if we only see you for a short appointment, and then we discard all that material. For this reason, we have to try with the best of our ability to determine what you need ahead of time before you come to the office. We will have to get as much information prior through photos and talking on the phone.
One of the hazards with our profession is the creation of aerosols during our procedures. Aerosols are liquid or solid particles suspended in the air. Droplets are a concern also, but these are heavier and fall to the ground, usually within two meters (hence the social distancing of 2 meters). Aerosols can remain suspended for longer periods. It’s not yet certain if the aerosols can result in transmission of infectious diseases, but with the current threat of COVID-19, it is something we want to address. For this reason, we have sourced a filtration system that will vacuum the aerosols directly at source from about a foot or two in front of the patient’s mouth. The air is then 99.9% filtered and treated with Ultraviolet C, which kills the pathogens. The resulting clean air is then returned to our hallways and reception area. This system is currently being installed in our office. We feel that this will provide us with the assurance of a safe environment for our staff and our patients.
Stay tuned for more information. We look forward to seeing you again soon!
Ray and Angelique