As we emerge from stay-home orders, it’s hard not to notice that many things look different now. This includes changes in your dentist’s office. The next time you visit, you’ll likely see changes to the way you sign in, wait for and attend your appointment.
The American Dental Association prepared dentists with plenty of guidance on how to safely re-open. Different dental offices might use different tactics, but please know these tactics are employed with the safety of patients, staff, dentists and the general public in mind.
- Here are some changes you might see at your next visit.
- Longer Wait Times for an Appointment: Office backlogs mean you may have to wait longer for an appointment or choose between fewer, longer appointment times.
- A New Type of Waiting Room: To maintain social distancing, some offices will employ virtual waiting rooms, checking in via text or an app and/or waiting outside until appointment time.
- Changes to the physical space: You might see chairs placed further apart and an absence of magazines, toys and shared items. You’ll probably be asked to limit extra people at the appointment. So, if it’s for your child, plan to have only one guardian attend.
- Changes during your appointment: Staff may approach routine procedures in a different way. There could be less staff present in each exam room or new protective equipment in and around the exam chair. Dentists will likely add extra safety precautions. For example, your dentist and hygienist will probably wear protective gear from the minute they enter the room. Their protective gear might be more intensive, including things like face shields, goggles and gowns. They might ask you to use hand sanitizer and wear a mask when you enter and to start your treatment with a rinse of mouthwash. Also, don’t be surprised to see front office staff using protective gear like masks, goggles and face shields.
Helping dentists pay for practice recovery
As dentists resume routine care, they face the challenges of developing, sourcing and paying for new processes, protocols and equipment to further protect their patients and staff. In keeping with our agreements with these dentists, you should not be billed for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or other infection control procedures or protocols.
- So, in an effort to help our partner dentists remain strong we are:
- Providing ~ $15 million dollars in grants to help offset the cost of reopening dental practices including the cost of more intensive personal protection equipment (PPE). (This amount is in addition to the $23 million in financial support programs we’ve implemented for our partner dentists since the start of this COVID-19 crisis.)
- Assisting in sourcing personal protection equipment (PPE) for dentists in partnership with the Washington State Dental Association.
Don’t Wait to Schedule Your Next Appointment
Please don’t let these changes stop you from scheduling your next appointment. Your teeth are important, and those teeth will be with you long after COVID-19 has passed.
Review your dental coverage before you go.
Log into MySmile
*Financial assistance is for all Washington state network dentists. Most Dental Delta member companies in other states are providing similar support to their network dentists. Talk to your dentist directly if you live outside of WA state.