What Do Ontario Stay-at-Home Orders Mean for Dental Care During COVID-19?
Increased restrictions are now being enforced to stop the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus through our communities, and enhanced safety measures are in place to ensure you can still obtain essential health care services.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge the world, and here in Ontario stricter measures have been implemented and stay-at-home orders are being enforced in hopes of protecting our communities by stopping the spread of this deadly virus. While we all work to do our part and comply with these orders, there have been questions and concerns raised about what types of essential services will remain accessible, even under these tighter restrictions.
We want to assure our patients and their families that even under the heightened safety orders put forth by the Ontario government, as outlined here in the Stay-at-Home Order issued on January 13th, 2021, dental health care services such as those provided by Georgian Dental are legally allowed to remain accessible.
Specifically, we refer to the section in Schedule 1 on “Obtaining Goods & Services”, and cite purpose #6:
“Obtaining goods or services that are necessary for the health or safety of an individual, including health care services and medications.”
The clinic will adhere to the guidelines outlined by the CMTO and Public Health Officials. For the safety of our patients & staff members, patients will be PRE-SCREENED the day before & the day of their appointment. Clients will be pre-screened either by PHONE or EMAIL. This applies to SAME DAY booking as well.
Some may wonder if obtaining dental health treatments or checkups really qualify as “necessary” given the current circumstances. Well, the simple truth is that if you do not maintain your regular schedule of dentist visits, you run the risk of developing long-term issues related to lack of proper oral health care. Plus, if left untreated, existing dental problems can progress rapidly into more serious conditions. In a nutshell, putting off important aspects of your health and well-being, like dental care, is never a good idea.
However, how can you be sure that dental clinics are a safe environment for you or your family members to visit during a highly contagious viral pandemic? The answer lies in the comprehensive list of safety protocols and environmental control equipment that Georgian Dental has put in place in response to COVID-19.
Is It Safe To Visit A Dental Clinic During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
In the very early stages of the pandemic, there was a great deal of analysis and research occurring by governing health organizations to determine exactly what the necessary precautions needed to be in order to provide an effective level of safety for the public, while simultaneously allowing health care providers the ability to deliver services to those in need. From this analysis, multiple requirements were put forth for dental clinics to implement prior to reopening under these new conditions.
These requirements included a combination of processes and equipment, many of which Georgian Dental clinics have always had in place from the first day we opened our doors as part of our overall approach to patient safety, clinic cleanliness, and tool sanitization.
For starters, before anyone can proceed into the clinic, patients and staff alike are required to wear face masks that cover the nose and mouth and undergo a screening procedure to check for any potential symptoms. Temperature and blood-oxygen levels are verified along with several other criteria to ensure that all persons entering the clinic are showing no symptoms associated with COVID-19 or have recently been in contact with anyone infected or suspected of being infected with the virus.
Once you have sanitized your hands and entered the clinic, you’ll notice several other changes designed to minimize the risks of transmission and contamination. Clear plexiglass barriers are in place on reception desks, waiting room chairs are separated for appropriate social distancing, and the number of people allowed in the clinic is kept to a minimum.
As you proceed to a treatment room, you’ll notice that each one has been isolated and sealed off from the others using a clear plastic film and zippered enclosure to prevent movement of air between different spaces in the clinic. All staff involved in your treatment will be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) that meets or exceeds all the necessary levels of protection required for medical environments. At the direction of your dentist or hygienist, you may remove your face mask for your treatment session but will be required to put it back on when the treatment is completed.
Furthermore, each treatment area is equipped with a dedicated HEPA filtration unit that is in continuous operation, scrubbing and cleaning the air to safely remove any airborne particles. These in-room HEPA air filter units are set to achieve maximum contamination control and germ elimination.
Behind the scenes, many other protocols are followed to ensure the highest levels of safety and protection for patients and staff. Frequent cleaning and sanitization of surfaces and equipment in the clinic is performed, with increased emphasis on high-contact areas such as door handles, chairs, debit/credit touchpads, and other items that are used often.
At the conclusion of each day, when the clinic is empty and all persons have vacated the building, a special ozone sanitization system is activated to completely sterilize all spaces and equipment throughout the clinic. This is achieved with a special air/ozone mixture which is introduced into the HVAC system inside the building. It is then evenly distributed throughout all spaces, sanitizing the air and all surfaces that it comes in contact with. After the sanitization process is completed, this ozone/air mixture completely dissipates, leaving the clinic clean and ready for the next day.
In addition to these examples, there are many other safety precautions that Georgian Dental has in place to keep patients and staff protected from any potential of viral transmission. For more details, we recommend you refer to our article on COVID-19 Safety Measures at Georgian Dental.
What Should A Patient Do To Visit A Dental Clinic Safely & Legally?
The steps that a patient should take are really quite straightforward; simply do what”s been recommended of you by health authorities since the onset of the pandemic.
- Self-isolate if you exhibit any potential symptoms or come in contact with someone confirmed to have been infected, or who is suspected to have been infected, and seek the advice of your doctor on how to get tested.
- Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer regularly to prevent the spread through contact with surfaces.
- Wear a mask in all situations when you are away from home and social distancing is not possible.
- Stay home whenever you can and avoid unnecessary gatherings of people outside of the immediate family members in your home.
- Follow the requests of grocery stores and other essential businesses by waiting patiently for your turn, wearing a mask, and sanitize your hands upon entry.
- When shopping for essentials, use curbside pickup or online ordering if possible, to reduce the number of trips away from home and minimize the time spent in public spaces.
In addition, when you do arrive for your appointment at a dental clinic, do so directly from your home, and then return immediately home afterwards. Do not run other errands before or after your appointment if possible.
Simply put, the guidelines recommended by Health Canada and other health authorities that are designed to keep yourself and others safe are quite clear. So, as long as you make every effort to follow them, you’ll be fully prepared for your next visit to obtain the dental care that you need to keep your mouth healthy and your smile beautiful.
Be Diligent & Stay Safe to Take Care of Yourself & Your Family
We all want COVID-19 to be over, and the best way to make that happen is to work together and do our best to stop the spread by following the guidelines we’ve been provided. The sooner we all do our part, the sooner we can kick COVID to the curb and get life turned back to normal. We encourage you to ask questions if you are unsure on what to do to obtain the essential dental care services you need during this time of stay-at-home orders and lockdowns.