Is Going to the Dentist Safe Right Now?

These days, it can be hard to know if anything is safe.  We cover our faces in public and cannot gather in large groups.  We change procedures constantly as new information emerges.  There was actually quite heated debate among dental professionals at the state level about when we can perform routine dentistry and how to go about doing it.  The great news is that it IS safe to seek dental care at this time.  There are several important facts on which we base this assurance of safety.

Yes, It is Safe with New Safety Protocols

On Thursday, April 30, the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners adopted Emergency Rule 108.7 in response to Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-19.  At Timberlake Dental, we have gone above and beyond these requirements to ensure the safety of both our patients and our dental team.  Here are a few of the changes you will notice when you schedule a visit with Dr. Chowning.

Phone Screenings

In order to identify potential risk of transmission, each patient will be screened over the phone prior to any office visits.  We will ask questions about risk for COVID-19 infection including those about travel and exposure.

Online Forms instead of Paperwork

Rather than passing around papers and pens, we are asking our patients to fill out necessary forms online prior to the scheduled dental visit.

No Lobby/Public Spaces

To prevent the gathering of groups, we have closed the lobby.  We ask each patient to call or text us upon arrival in our parking lot.  We escort each patient into the office when we can ensure no contact with other patients.  We do this by coordinating and limiting the timing of entrance and exit of each patient.

Patient Screening with Temperature Checks

We are checking patient temperatures prior to any procedures.  If your temperature registers higher than 100.4 degrees, we will ask you to reschedule your appointment at a later date to confirm that you are not ill.

Hand Sanitizer Available for Patient Use

We have hand sanitizer available for patient use at every turn.  It is present on both check-in and check-out desks and in each treatment room.

Pre-Rinse Requirement before Treatment

Scientific research shows that rinsing the mouth with a 1% hydrogen peroxide rinse will reduce the presence of any virus in the oral mucosa.  We have this solution prepared for each patient who will have dental treatment.  Rinsing your mouth thoroughly with this solution reduces the risk of transmission to anyone else in the office, should you be carrying the virus unknowingly.

Upgraded PPE

You can see from our fun photos that we are covered from head to toe!  We are wearing gowns, head coverings, N95 masks and face shields in addition to our traditional dental PPE.  All this extra covering may cause us to keep the temperature in the office a little lower than normal.  You might want to dress warmly if you tend to get chilly easily.

Procedural Changes to Reduce Aerosols

One of the concerns raised about dental treatment is that some of our tools create aerosols (particles in the air).  We are eliminating aerosols during professional teeth cleanings by using only specific instruments.  We also eliminate over 90% of aerosols produced during traditional dental treatments (like fillings and crowns) by using barrier and suction devices proven in scientific research to prevent microorganisms from entering the air.

Longer Spacing between Patients to Allow for Treatment Room Disinfection

You might not notice this one, but we are spacing out patient appointments to allow for more time to clean the treatment rooms.  We disinfect every surface in the room after a patient leaves and prepare it for the next patient with clean, disposable barriers.

New Plexiglass Barriers

In areas outside of the treatment rooms that require face-to-face interactions, we have installed plexiglass barriers to provide a separation between patients and team members during check-in, check-out, and consultations.

Any surfaces that patients do come in contact with (credit card machines, doorknobs, etc…) are disinfected between each patient.

Timberlake Staff Requirements

We require changes among our staff operations, too.  Each team member arrives for work in street clothes and changes into scrubs.  At the end of the day, he or she will leave the scrubs at the office for laundering so that no PPE is leaving the building.

You’ll notice our front office staff wearing cloth masks to add protection but preserve the necessary N95 masks for patient treatment.  Each team member has a temperature check twice a day and answers the same screening questions posed to our patients.

While we hesitate to bring up hand washing in the fear that you might think we weren’t washing our hands before coronavirus . . . we do want you to know that hand washing among all Timberlake Dental team members is at its highest level.  Again, proper hand washing was always a part of our infection control protocols before coronavirus.  We just want to stress that we are still adhering to strict hand washing protocols.

We can confidently assure you of the safety of your visit to the dental practice because we know that the steps we are taking will protect us.  Since we trust that the measures implemented provide for our own protection, we can stress our firm belief in our ability to protect each patient as well.

More Questions about Dental Treatment at Timberlake Dental?

Call 940-382-1750 today to ask any questions or schedule a visit with Dr. Chowning and our dental hygienists!  We are pleased to resume our care for each and every one of you.

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