To our valued patients,
Infection control has always been a top priority for our dental practice and you may have seen this during your visits to our office. Our infection control processes are made so that when you receive care, it’s both safe and comfortable.
Over the past few weeks, we have been preparing the office in accordance with the latest infection control recommendations and requirements set forth by the American Dental Association (ADA), the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). We follow the activities of these agencies so that we are up-to-date on any new rulings or guidance that may be issued. As a result, you may see some changes when it is time for your next appointment.
Every room has always been cleaned and disinfected between patients, including every contact surface such as counter-tops and chairs. We use EPA-registered, hospital-grade disinfectants. The CDC now states that the use of EPA-registered, hospital-grade disinfectants are appropriate for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus strain which causes COVID-19) in healthcare settings.
We are also closely following the CDC guidelines regarding any changes in the dental instruments cleaning and sterilization processes. So far, the instructions from the CDC have not changed, so we have adhered to, and will continue to strictly adhere to, any and all guidelines set forth by this agency.
After an instrument is used, touched or opened, it goes in an ultrasonic device using a special enzymatic detergent. The ultrasonic uses high-frequency sound waves that, along with the detergent, separate debris from the instruments. After this cleaning process, instruments are dried and packed into pouches or cassettes. Once they are packed, depending on the type of instrument, they are sterilized either in a dry heat sterilizer at 400-degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours or in a steam autoclave that uses a high temperature/pressure combination to sterilize the instruments (a study found that COVID-19 dies around 197.6 degrees in 15 minutes). Additionally, we disinfect water lines and suction lines on a strict routine basis. This has and will continue to remain our procedure until the CDC says otherwise.
COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning about how it spreads and the severity of it, so we will adjust procedures as necessary. This is why we are implementing even more new protocols in our office. For example:
- Appointments will be managed to allow for social distancing between patients. That might mean that you’re offered fewer options for scheduling your appointment and your appointment may also have to be rescheduled to a different date or time. We will be contacting you if this is the case.
- Our office will communicate with you prior to your appointment to ask some screening questions either through text, email or phone call. You’ll be asked those same questions again when you are in the office.
- We will have a sign on the outside door that you will have to wait outside or in your car until you receive a call or text to come inside. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible to allow for greater social distancing and less interaction.
- We have a hand sanitizer that we will ask you to use before you enter the waiting room. You will also find some in the reception area and other places in the office for you to use as needed.
- The assistant or hygienist greeting you in the waiting room will perform a temperature check using a no-touch infrared thermometer and ask you the same screening questions.
- Days prior to our COVID-19 closure, we were performing temperature checks on all staff members and will continue to do so once we re-open. Our staff is also extremely diligent about hand-washing/hand-disinfecting.
- All of our staff members will be required to wear masks at all times in the office.
- Our clinicians (Dr. Welz and the hygienists) have access to N-95 respirators, surgical masks and a face shield.
- We require patients to swish with a peroxide pre-procedural rinse at the beginning of their appointment.
- We are acquiring extra-oral vacuum units to minimize aerosols in the air. Until we have these units, your hygienist will use less aerosol-generating equipment. Minimizing aerosols has become a requirement.
- We have been and will continue to wipe multi-touch surfaces (door knobs, countertops, credit card machine) with disinfecting Lysol wipes.
- You may see that our waiting room will no longer offer magazines or books since those items are difficult to clean and disinfect.
- Our credit card machine will have a protective barrier switched between patients. We are still asking that you pay at your time of visit. However, you may also leave a card on file if you would prefer.
- We will have a glass barrier between you and the front desk.
Everything we are implementing is subject to change as we learn more information. We look forward to seeing you again and are happy to answer any questions you may have about the steps we take to keep you, our staff, and every patient, safe in our practice. If you have any questions or to make an appointment, please text/call our office at 617-262-3737, visit our website firstname.lastname@example.org or use the chat button in the bottom right corner.
Thank you for being our patient and thank you for being patient with us. We value your trust and loyalty and look forward to welcoming back our patients, neighbors and friends.
Dr. Valdemar Welz and staff