Dentists around the globe, like people in many medical industries, have been worried because their place of work involves close contact humans, and in their case with the intimate germ-space that is the mouth. With the new coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic spreading around the globe rapidly, suddenly Australian dentists have had to deal with the Australian government issuing a decree that shuts down almost all their work. Cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics, veneers … all silenced by Scott Morrison – with the only activity they’re allowed to carry out being emergency dentistry.
Even though COVID-19 is a terrifying new infectious disease that is affecting the respiratory system to such an extent that a lot of people are dying, we still need some aspects of our lives to remain active. If you knock out a tooth, suffer sudden excruciating pain of the teeth or gums, or have some other development which requires an emergency dentist, luckily you can still get help. Coronavirus is primarily spread through droplets of saliva or any discharge from the nose, so if a patient coughs or sneezes the respiratory droplets lands on the dentist and they’re likely to contain the virus. This is a great concern since any patient who walks through the dentist’s door will obviously open their mouth, cough or even spit.
As such, emergency dentists have enacted new hygiene protocols to keep this life threatening disease at bay. Let’s take a look at some of these measures:
Frequently Wash Hands
This may sound too obvious but is a life-saving routine. Here is how to do it.
- Wet hands with clean running water and then apply soap.
- Rub hands together to lather the soap. Lather the back of the hands, between the fingers and under the nails.
- Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse hands under clean running water
- Dry hands using a clean dry towel or air dry them.
When you can’t wash hands with soap and water, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Here is how to use the sanitiser.
- Apply the sanitizer on the hand
- Rub hands together.
- Rub the sanitizer all over the surface of the hands, in between fingers until dry. This rubbing should last at least 20seconds.
Maintain Social Distancing
Emergency dentists are advised to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres between themselves and anyone who is sneezing or coughing. This is because when an infected person coughs or sneezes, they release saliva droplets which may contain the virus.
To encourage social distancing:
Dentists should postpone all elective and non-emergency procedures, but if patients eat too much chocolate and have excruciating pain from too many caries, well of course that’s what emergency dentists are there for.
Have patients wait in their cars as opposed to the waiting room.
Practice Respiratory Hygiene
When sneezing or coughing it is recommended that you cover your mouth with a bent elbow or on a tissue that should be disposed immediately and appropriately.
Oral health providers should join in making public awareness on coronavirus and tailoring their Facebook advertising campaigns to provide education about coronavirus and encourage interaction long afterwards. People appreciate seeing their dentist showing initiative and care for their local community.
ADDITIONAL PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES FOR EMERGENCY DENTISTS
Dentists must take further precautionary measure to protect themselves and others. Below are the routine measures to follow.
- Before performing any procedure, take temperature readings.
- Wear appropriate personal protective equipment such as eye wear, gloves, gowns and masks.
- Clean and sterilise all non-disposable dental tools.
- Clean and regularly disinfect dental chairs, drawer handles, counter tops and replace protective covers after treating each patient.
- All dental staff attending to patients should throw away disposable gloves and face masks.
- Wash hands and put on a new set of gloves before attending the next patient.
- Disinfect public utilities frequently including door handles, toilets and bathrooms.
At this time, if your dentist costs a bit more you shouldn’t let that worry you as it means they’re likely taking extra time and precautions. In Australia emergency dentists can still operate during this new coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane or anywhere in the entire country. So while you might get fined $1000 for sitting on a park bench eating a kebab, you will not be in any trouble for seeking out an emergency dentist.