In times of social distancing measures, dental appointments will follow the recommendations, in order to reduce the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus. The first contact with both, pre-existent and new patients, will take place via a video-consultation, when the dental team will discuss the nature of the dental appointment (elective or emergency), personal and medical details will be updated, the complete description of any medical conditions (including the screening for COVID-19 symptoms) and medication currently taken. Also, for anxious patients, a discussion of concerns and what can be offered to tackle them will take place. This is the triage stage, when the dental staff will assess the patient’s needs and discuss treatment options.
As per the government “phased” approach to relieving the lockdown restrictions, Dentistry will, in the first instance, prioritize the dental emergencies backlog. The current guidance has classified the Dental Procedures into 2 categories: AGP (Aerosol generating procedure) and non- AGP. This classification was created because the aerosol formed when the dentist uses any piece of equipment that uses pressurized air and water, like when removing decay for a filling, or removing the tartar/stains with Ultrasonic scalers) will get in contact with the patient’s saliva and spread through the surgery, making the disinfection procedures to follow more time-consuming (30 to 60 minutes after every patient). In addition, the PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) recommended for AGPs is the same utilized in the frontline at hospitals dealing with COVID-19 patients.
As the main rule being to create a safe environment for dental staff and patients, Tele Dentistry is here to stay, as follows the principles of social distancing imposed by the COVID-19 and is an effective communication channel between dental team and patients.
Next article: Dental appointments and social distancing.