TAMPA, Fla — Health officials are advising people not to ignore their normal health checkups during the pandemic, and that includes dental appointments.
Dr. Christopher Bulnes, a practicing Florida Dental Association member in South Tampa, told us what you can expect at your next dental visit.
Dr. Bulnes says you’re probably not going to see waiting rooms where people are gathering, instead, you might be asked to call, or text a number to say you’ve arrived for your appointment. The state dental association also says waiting rooms won’t have magazines or other communal items.
Patients may be screened for signs and symptoms of the coronavirus before their appointment, and again when they get to the office. Once there, you might also be asked to wash or sanitize your hands. Dental staff may be in medical gowns, wearing some level of a mask, or even face shields. Patients are required to wear a mask too until they are in the dentist chair. You might also be asked to wash or sanitize your hands.
Surfaces and touchpoints are wiped down throughout the day and when your appointment is over, you’ll be asked to wait until other patients have left the front desk before you check out or schedule your next appointment.
Dr. Bulnes says the biggest change is for patients since even before the pandemic, dentists were diligent about cleaning supplies and tools.
"You might see some air filtration systems that have been put in place or UV lights, but for the most part it’s more of a slowdown of the traffic so we’re not congregating around common areas,” Dr. Bulnes said.
It’s important, he says, to still schedule your checkup appointments since that’s the best way they can catch issues with your teeth before they become too serious.
“If we’re providing a safe environment that the patient is going to feel safe. If the patient feels safe, we can do our job in a very efficient manner, a very safe manner to get them to having no tooth pain and a perfect smile and that’s our goal.”
Getting ready to head to the dentist? Here are five things to know before you go:
- There could be a pre-appointment screening for signs and symptoms of COVID-19
- There are new procedures to limit contact
- Say goodbye to waiting area with shared items
- More hand hygiene precautions will be taken
- Make sure to contact your dentist office with any concerns
You can find more COVID-19 safety information on the Florida Dental Association's website.
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