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Dentist offices add extra safety measures to protect patients, staff

Dentist offices are implementing extra safety measures to ensure patients and staff are protected. If you hold off on care, you may be risking your health long-term.

SAN ANTONIO — The fear of coronavirus may have people thinking twice before going to dental check-ups during the pandemic. But dentists say you could be risking your health long-term.

The American Dental Association encourages visits to the dentist to maintain good oral health. Dental professionals can spot gum disease, cavities, enamel wear and other issues during the visits. The check-ups are key to prevent health issues tied to poor oral health including heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

As more states reopen their economies, Dr. Joel Strom, former president of the Dental Board of California, who has more than 40 years of experience, said dentist offices are preparing their offices for patients.  

“It’s really important to remember the dental profession has been on top of infection control for 40, 50 years already,” said Strom. “Make sure you’re in contact with your dental office. Speak to your dentist, to your staff. They have your best needs at the heart and we want to make sure that you don't stay home unnecessarily. We’re ready for you.”

Strom added that dentist offices are making it a priority to add extra safety measures to minimize exposure for both patients and staff. One example is Scuba Smiles for Kids, a dentist office located in north-central San Antonio. The office reopened doors on May 4 to all patients.

Credit: Scuba Smiles for Kids
Scuba Smiles for Kids

Dr. Lela Farmer said infection control has always been top of mind at Scuba Smiles for Kids, but a more stringent standard of infection control has been implemented at the dental practice. The office has upgraded personal protection equipment for staff members. They are now wearing N95 masks, face shields, and more clinical gear. They have installed plexiglass in areas for extra protection. 

Staff is urging parents to call when they arrive and wait in their car until their appointment. Scuba Smiles will also enforce these rules:

  • No more than one parent may accompany a child
  • Social distancing is a must
  • The video games have been turned off in the office
  • Adults must keep their face mask on at all times in the office

Dentists were only permitted to treat emergency cases between mid-March and early May, due to Texas' state at home order.

“It is such a relief to be able to provide preventative and restorative treatment again, instead of having to wait until the patient is in a lot of pain to be able to help,” said Dr. Farmer.

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