By Dr. Mike Maroon
Editor's note: Dr. Maroon is a practicing dentist with over 30 years' experience. He shared his perspective with Incisor to help his colleagues answer a pressing question.
As the world begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, one question that I'm often asked is "Do you think it's safe for patients to come back?" My immediate answer is an overwhelming, "YES!"
Dental offices are one of the SAFEST places you can be.
Dental offices are one of the SAFEST places you can be. Dentistry is a profession of obsessive-compulsive cleaners. Dental treatment rooms are cleaned with bactericidal and viricidal cleaners before & after each patient visit. My practice utilizes barrier protection to prevent germs from spreading when we touch things. All instruments are heat sterilized before each patient and then sterilized again afterward. In addition to utilizing many disposable products, we wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the safety of our patients.
Dentistry was safe before the COVID-19 outbreak and it remains safe after.
Recently, much has been written about aerosols and their potential danger, especially as it relates to COVID-19. Our human bodies have a well-developed immune system to protect us from any potential dangers that we may be exposed to from aerosols in our daily lives. As it specifically relates to aerosols generated by dental procedures, the American Dental Association (ADA) has been a leader in helping dental offices remain safe before, during, and after the pandemic. With guidelines that have been developed through science and fact, this includes improved safety measures that were developed with both the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Dentistry was safe before the COVID-19 outbreak and it remains safe after. To date, there has not been one instance of a major COVID-19 outbreak from a dental office, throughout the entire world.
Since the pandemic began, dental offices have been taking additional safety measures to protect their patients and team. These include:
- Social distancing
- COVID-19 screening before each patient visit, including taking temperatures
- Limiting the number of people who are in the office at all times
- Sanitization of patient hands & devices
- Increased PPE for both patients and the dental team
- Limiting of aerosol-generating procedures
My office is even going above and beyond by utilization of both intraoral & extraoral aerosol removal devices and improving our air filtration with air purification devices & UV light sterilization.
These additional measures, in addition to a dentist's regular infection control procedures, make dental offices one of the safest places you can be.
There's a lot of uncertainty when it comes to COVID-19. One thing you can assure your patients about is that going to the Dentist is, and always has been, safe.
Dr. Mike Maroon is a full-time practicing dentist in Connecticut. With over 30 years of dental experience, he has helped dental professionals around the world with his knowledge of dentistry as a speaker & author and online through articles, webinars & podcasts. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.