Orthodontist offices across the country have been closed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, vital services like orthodontics can’t remain closed indefinitely. While COVID numbers continue to rise in some areas, many patients are wondering if it’s safe to go to the orthodontist. Only you can answer that question for yourself, but the information to follow will help you understand the precautions and safety features included in making an orthodontist appointment today.
Downtime Hasn’t Been Wasted
Being on the front-line of infectious disease isn’t a new concept for your orthodontist and his/her team of medical professionals. Preventing the spread of infectious disease has always been a priority. Now, that priority is just more noticed by the patient.
Medical clinics of all sorts, including orthodontics, already have a long-standing history of prioritizing patient safety. Think of measures such as offering large, spacious, and divided waiting rooms to offer separation. Most facilities have hand sanitizer stations at entry and exit points. Service providers that have close or direct contact with patients wear personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves, for both their own safety and that of the patient. Even the low-porous, smooth materials used for seating are intentionally selected for their ability to be easily sanitized.
Yet, many medical businesses have used the crisis closure time to develop new processes that offer patients and staff even more safety and the absolute cleanest environment possible. Such precautions may mean that your appointment process goes a little differently from usual. However you can rest assured that your orthodontist is continuing to prioritize the safety of all patients and staff and working closely with officials to ensure public safety guidelines from the CDC are being followed.
What Will My Orthodontic Appointment Look Like Now?
You might not have paid universal precautions much mind before the pandemic rocked our nation and brought the spread of disease to the forefront of the public eye. Your orthodontist appointment has always included the strictest universal precautions, which includes your orthodontist team using masks, gloves, goggles/glasses, and gowns or aprons when each is appropriate. Treatment stations have always been sanitized before and after each patient, and the instruments and devices your orthodontist team uses are all properly sterilized. The goal has always been to protect patients and staff alike from the spread of disease.
So what’s changed?
Touch point surfaces out of the immediate treatment area will now be sanitized more often. This includes waiting room chairs, door handles, desks, bathrooms, and so forth. These areas are necessary and can be frequently sanitized. Other non-essential areas that are difficult to sanitize, such as guest reading materials and refreshment stations, will be removed/closed.
Your orthodontist may also send out texts, letters, or emails to all patients asking for assistance in upholding extra precautions. This may include specific instructions about taking your temperature before your appointment and rescheduling if you have symptoms of illness. You may be asked to brush your teeth at home just prior to your appointment. Patients may be asked not to bring guests unless it’s an adult accompaniment to a minor.
- Your check-in process may have a few extra steps to promote distancing and safety precautions.
- You may be asked to wait in your vehicle verses the traditional waiting room. If the waiting room is open, you may notice closed seating to ensure proper social distancing between patients.
- The orthodontist appointment may include a new triage component to ask infection control questions and screen temperatures of incoming patients, which may include doing that same for any guest accompanying you.
- Once your appointment begins, you may be asked to gargle with a hydrogen peroxide rinse. This is a step that can reduce the amount of viruses and germs in the mouth.
Do keep in mind that safety, not expedience, is the ultimate goal for your orthodontist at this time. Because of the extra steps and decrease in volume of patients per day, your appointment may take slightly longer than usual to complete. It may also take longer for you to get an orthodontist appointment, which is why it’s recommended to call your orthodontist office as soon as the need arises.