Dental practices across Connecticut have reopened after closing for roughly 10 weeks because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Now that the practices have reopened, front office staff have been extremely busy re-booking appointments and patients are having very different experiences in order to comply with health and safety recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Health.
“We did have to cancel 700 hygiene appointments during that time,” said Kathryn Wilhelms, a dentist at Farmington Family Dentistry.
The office is booked through October and November is filling up quickly.
“It’s been difficult. Patients are just so thrilled to be back and getting their teeth taken care of, having problems taken care of because things just continue to happen,” Wilhelms said.
“My front desk has been unbelievable. They’ve gone through a lot,” said Michael Gabor, a dentist in Rocky Hill.
At Michael Gabor’s Family and General Dentistry practice in Rocky Hill patients have their temperature taken and answer a list of questions in person regarding their medical history and potential exposure to COVID-19.
At Farmington Family Dentistry in Farmington patients are required to answer questions about their medical history online prior to arriving at the office. Then, eight hours prior to their appointment they fill out a COVID screening form.
After entering dental practices, there is hand sanitizer for patients to use and they are immediately taken back to the exam room where dental hygienists and dentists are covered in personal protective equipment (PPE). Dentists at both Gabor’s office and Farmington Family Dentistry are wearing gloves, face shields and two masks, an N-95 and a surgical mask.
“It’s been very stressful to be honest, mostly just getting the PPE that we needed to open for the hygienist because we want to keep everybody safe,” Gabor said.
During a cleaning, Dr. Gabor said they are no longer using a cavitron that sprays water, and instead of rinsing with a cup of water they are giving patients a peroxide rinse that helps to kill bacteria.
After cleanings are complete, patients are rebooked for their next appointment before even leaving their chair. This prevents any crowding in the halls or at the front desk.
After patients leave, the safety precautions don’t stop there. Dentists and hygienists change out of their clothes at work and wash them there. They leave their shoes at the office and are socially distancing throughout the day, even taking breaks outside of the building to eat lunch.