COVID-19 RETURN TO CARE POLICY
This policy has been created based on multiple updated sources from within the dental and medical professions and the government. It outlines modifications to our normal procedures that we intend to employ once the practice can be reopened after the COVID-19 pandemic peak has subsided. It is not known at this time whether these procedures are temporary or whether they will become a permanent feature of the way dental practices must be run to ensure patient and staff safety in the future. The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is still being evaluated and studied and policies and recommendations are likely to change in line with new scientific evidence over time. We would like to thank all of our patients for their patience and forbearance during the period of temporary practice closure and for their understanding and cooperation whilst we implement new measures at the practice. We will of course be providing dental care to all of our patients in the safest possible environment. We greatly appreciate your assistance with any new or modified procedures at the practice. Provisional timetable It is our intention for the practice to re-open for patients on Monday 8 st June 2020 unless an extension to the current lockdown is mandated by the government or professional bodies. The team at House of Smiles will prepare the practice for reopening and practicing our updated procedures before patients return to the practice.
We will be prioritizing:
- Patients with treatment that was incomplete before the practice was temporarily closed.
- Patients with emergency problems or other dental problems that require urgent assessment and treatment.
- Patients who were due for routine examinations and hygienist visits during the period of closure;
- Patients who are due to orthodontic reviews.
Patient communication before reopening
We will be contacting patients and confirming appointments ahead of their scheduled time. We will request that all patients who are attending the clinic to update their standard Medical and Dental Questionnaire beforehand. These forms include a new, more detailed, section which will allow us to assess your level of risk for coronavirus infection before you attend the surgery.
New measures at the House of Smiles Dental clinic to reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission
Our normal cross-infection control protocols against all previously known pathogens are already woven into all clinical activity carried out at the practice. It should be remembered that a dental practice is already a very clean environment compared to public areas and there is no evidence of COVID-19 transmission occurring in increased rates in dentists or their staff. We have collectively evaluated all of the updated guidance and observed what measures have been put in place in other countries. We feel that the following measures will reduce risk to the minimum level at the practice. Please be assured that all of our clinical staff will also be complying with these procedures to reduce the risk of cross-infection in both directions.
Before attending the practice
- We will carry out a pre-attendance assessment via your completed Medical History/Assessment forms at least three days before your appointment and, if necessary, a follow-up telephone conversation to assess relative coronavirus infection risk. Our staff will contact you to remind you of this if we have not received your completed forms. If you have any difficulties with completing the forms we can help you with this over the phone. If we feel that you are at risk of having possibly been infected, even if you are asymptomatic, we will respectfully request for you to delay booking any appointments with us for at least one month.
- In view of the potential seriousness of this disease, please note that we respectfully insist that the Medical and Dental Questionnaire (MDQ) is completed at least three days before your appointment. If we do not receive the completed questionnaire in time and we are unable to contact you, we may need to cancel your appointment. You may be charged for the appointment if we are unable to fill it at short notice as per our normal terms and conditions.
- We would recommend that patients in the high-risk groups for developing complications from coronavirus delay non-essential dental treatment for as long as possible until the trend of the pandemic becomes clear. To find out whether you are in a high or very high-risk group please see the link below:
- If you are in a high-risk group and do require treatment, we will schedule your appointment at the beginning of the day to limit your potential exposure to other patients and aerosols.
- The House of Smiles dental clinic will be operating contactless payment systems going forwards and we would request that payment is made online or over the phone for your appointment prior to you attending if you do not have a means of making the contactless payment with Apple Pay or Google Pay at the time. This reduces the requirement for unnecessary contact or use of pin entries on card terminals at reception.
- When traveling to the practice, we would recommend that you limit close contact with other members of the public as far as possible. We will meet all patients outside the building and bring them straight into the surgery. One adult is able to attend with a child; please do not bring additional family members with you unless they are happy to wait in the car or outside the building.
Arriving at the practice
- We intend to eliminate waiting inside the practice and at reception. Accordingly, appointments will be staggered so that patients do not arrive or leave at the same time as other patients as far as we can manage.
- We regret that during this interim period, we will not be providing our normal tea and coffee services in the interest of reducing all opportunities for cross-infection to a minimum.
- When you attend the practice, we will welcome you, and ask for you to hang your coat or jacket at the entrance to the practice. The front door will remain locked, however, we cannot accept liability for personal items so please limit what you bring into the building. We will take your temperature with a no-touch thermometer. If your temperature is above 37.8°C, you will be unable to enter the practice and will be asked to return home and self-isolate as per current government guidelines.
- If you are well, we would direct you straight to the surgery and request that you do the following before or during your appointment:
- Use the hand sanitizer in the reception area or
- Thoroughly wash your hands for 30 seconds with the antiseptic handwash provided in the bathroom before entering the treatment room
- We may ask you to use a Hydrogen Peroxide mouthwash before some dental treatments are provided
- Rubber dam or other barrier mechanisms will be used for more procedures than previously.
- When using the restrooms, please do your best to ensure that you leave the facilities as you would expect to find them and wash your hand thoroughly. The restrooms will be regularly disinfected between patients.
- The House of Smiles team has spent time critically looking at every aspect of the practice with a view to removing all non-essential items that can potentially be the cause of infection. You will find that the practice may appear to be quite bare when you attend.
- All clinical and common areas including door handles and surfaces will be regularly disinfected in addition to our normal surface cleaning protocols between patients.
- The House of Smiles clinic will be providing a buffer period between patients to allow additional time for additional decontamination procedures, allow for any treatment overruns and allow preparation time for the next patient so that they do not need to wait in the reception area.
- All future appointments will be made and confirmed by email or telephone to limit your time spent at reception.
- All dental staff will be using personal protective equipment in line with current recommendations and evidence. We apologize in advance for the necessary reduction in social interaction that this will necessitate. Whilst our masks may make us appear impersonal and distant, please be assured we are still the same friendly team underneath it all!
- We are especially mindful that many dental treatments are aerosol-generating procedures (AGP’s). It is difficult for us to carry out some dental procedures without generation of some level of aerosol. Aerosol suspended in the air is a theoretical source of infection that we obviously wish to keep to a minimum. Currently, dental literature suggests:
- Our use of our normal high-volume suction reduces aerosol production by over 90%.
- The use of a dental rubber dam where possible reduces bioaerosols by a further 30 to 90%
- Our regular facemasks filter approximately 60% of remaining airborne particles.
- FFP2 and FFP3 masks filter 94% and 99% respectively of airborne particles in both directions (patient to clinician and clinician to the patient).
- We, therefore, feel that our normal dental procedures can be carried out with minimal risk by the use of high-volume suction, rubber dam, and FFP2 masks and, in the high aerosol-generating procedures FFP3 masks as appropriate.
- Whilst we will not be charging additional fees for the donning and doffing and fallow times of up to 1 hour in between appointment, we will need to introduce a surcharge for the PPE that we need to invest in for the safety of our patients and staff.
- The guide below outlines the additional charges, per visit.
Aerosol Generating Procedures – £30
Non-Aerosol generating procedures – £15
We will encourage, where possible, to have longer appointments to have treatments done in one visit to reduce the number of surcharges you will incur. The vast majority of our patients are otherwise healthy without coronavirus infection and we are confident that we are able to provide normal dental care for these patients in as normal an environment as possible while bearing in mind our responsibilities to mitigate risks of infection spread as far as is practically possible. This policy will be constantly reviewed and updated as necessitated by circumstances over time.
If you have any questions regarding this or about your dental care at The House of Smiles
Dental Clinic please do not hesitate to contact us on [email protected]