With President Rodrigo Duterte placing the entire Luzon island under enhanced community quarantine, the Philippine Dental Association recommends that dental practitioners and clinics suspend all face-to-face dental care except for emergency and life-threatening procedures.
If you’re a patient requiring emergency dental care, you may expect changes to standard practices as most dental clinics are implementing measures in response to this public health issue. This may be stricter than before and practitioners would be wearing personal protective equipment (PPEs) for infection control procedures..
To learn more about how dental clinics would handle emergency patients, here’s a basic overview of the protective measures they follow to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
6 Protective Measures Dental Clinics Follow to Contain the Spread of COVID-19
1. Strict Patient Evaluation
With the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, it’s safe to assume that everyone is either “infected or a carrier.” Even if a person does not have any travel history or contact with other infected persons, a number of local transmissions have already been reported.
As such, before one can get admitted to a dental clinic, dentists are recommended to screen patients first. This can easily be done through remote consultations via the phone or the internet.
Either way, screening questions should include the following:
1. What is the need for a dental consultation? Is it pain, trauma, facial swelling, or severe infection?
– If so, request for digital photos through apps such as Viber, Whatsapp, FB messenger, or any other software to distinguish a real emergency.
2. Where do you live?
– Note that Local Government Units (LGUs) have already identified areas with a higher-than-average number of cases or those at-risk due to proximity to hospitals.
3. What is your job and where do you work?
– This is one way to screen areas of travel within the city or in any locality and helps identify the work-related risk category of the individual.
Overall, these questions would help dental practitioners determine if they can accommodate a patient or not. For instance, if a patient has positive exposure but is not infected or not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 infection, they may be treated by the dental team.
However, dental clinics should still follow very strict infection control precautions. This includes having the body temperature of the patient measured, requiring the patient to wear masks, or even asking for patients to wash their hands before administering the dental procedure.
Individuals who tested positive of COVID-19 can still be treated but it should be strictly for urgent and emergency cases only.
2. Proper Hand Hygiene
Ever since person-to-person has been reported as one of the main transmissions of COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to follow proper hand hygiene for dental practices.
Although appropriate hand hygiene is a prerequisite, hand-washing compliance is proven to be relatively low. This imposes a great challenge to control the spread of the virus.
During this pandemic, the reinforcement for good hand hygiene should be of utmost importance. Dental practitioners should wash their hands before patient examination, before dental procedures, after touching the patient, and after touching the surroundings and equipment without disinfection. They should also avoid touching their own eyes, nose, and mouth.
3. Use of Protective Equipment
Aside from person-to-person transmissions, airborne droplet transmission of infection is also considered to a major contributor to coronavirus spread.
Under no circumstances should dental practitioners attend to their patients without wearing PPEs. This includes protective eyewear, masks, gloves, caps, face shields, and other protective outerwear.
If one does not wear these devices, they put their entire staff in danger of contracting the virus and consequently spreading the virus to their respective families and communities.
4. Use of Dental Dams
To contain the spread of COVID-19, dental clinics can also utilize dental or rubber dams in addition to PPEs. This would reduce the production of saliva and blood-contaminated spatter, especially in cases when dental ultrasonic and high-speed handpieces are used.
In fact, it can significantly minimize airborne particles by 70% in a typical 3-foot operational room, according to a study.
5. Disinfection of Clinic Settings
Dental clinics should be disinfected and cleaned regularly in accordance with available safety protocols. This also includes public areas and appliances such as door handles, desks, chairs, and elevators.
By taking effective and strict disinfection measures in both clinical settings and public areas, dental practitioners can help control the spread of coronavirus.
6. Proper Management of Medical Waste
Lastly, all medical wastes (including disposable PPEs after use) should be timely and properly disposed of.
Do keep in mind that the waste generated by the treatment of patients with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 should be regarded as infectious medical waste. As such, one should mark the surface of garbage bags and handle them accordingly.
And again, in accordance with available safety protocols, any kind of reusable dental instrument must be pre-treated, cleaned, sterilized, and properly stored.
With the whole country currently battling the COVID-19 pandemic, simply observing a “high level of precaution” when handling dental patients can help fight the spread of the virus.
Are you in need of emergency dental assistance? Asian Sun Dental Clinic, one of the most reputable dental clinics in Quezon City, can accommodate you. If you live near Barangay Toro, we are conveniently located at 139 B Congressional Avenue. Kindly give us a call first to book an appointment.
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