Skyline Dental has been following the evolving scientific data around COVID-19. We are using the data to create protocols to improve our dental office safety procedures. Acknowledging the pandemic may be with us for 1-2 years has allowed us to work with laser focus on adapting our practices.
Here are some of the measures we are taking for your safety:
It may seem like a no-brainer, but behaviors like distancing and personal hygiene continue to be the most powerful. Our team has taken this time to review infection control measures our dental office has always adhered to, along with new ones specific to COVID-19. Beyond office cleanliness, we begin each day by screening ourselves for symptoms, taking temperatures, and holding ourselves to the same safety standards we ask of our patients. We've also taken this time to review and critique our behaviors at home and as we go about our daily lives. Following Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines will help us keep our families, communities, and work environments safe.
Before your appointment, we will call you to confirm that you are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19. Upon arrival, you will be asked to keep all unnecessary personal belongings like hats, handbags, sunglasses, and spouses in your car. Entering the office you will be greeted with hand sanitizer, a fresh face mask, and we will take your temperature.
In the treatment room, you will be asked to rinse with hydrogen peroxide, which is shown to be a very effective and safe oral antiseptic.
Our office has N95 masks, face shields, surgical caps and gowns, touchless infrared thermometers and hand sanitizer dispensers. Reusable personal protective equipment (PPE) is changed and sterilized between each patient and all garments are removed and washed before reuse. Difficult-to-clean items and clutter have been removed from the office and treatment rooms. This allows for effective and efficient cleaning between patients.
Fogging with electrolyzed water has been proven to be more effective and safer than bleach and peroxide products in broad spectrum room disinfection. It has been safely used in the food, hotel, and airline industries, as well as in hospital settings for years. It will now likely be commonplace in the dental setting. We have also taken robust air filtration measures, including adding high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters that will scrub our air of larger particles and PiCO air purifiers which sterilize and inactivate viruses, bacteria, mold spores, and more. Treatment rooms and common areas have both filters present for maximum effectiveness. Between seeing patients and after closing, we will be using ultraviolet (UV) light, specifically UV-C, which has been shown to be effective against viruses. This is commonly used in hospital settings for broad spectrum sterilization of rooms.
We will see one patient at a time and appointments will be spaced out to allow us time to clean and change into new garments and PPE. Higher-risk patients (60+, cardiovascular disease, immune-compromised, etc.) will be seen in the mornings, before we have seen multiple patients. Any aerosol-producing procedures will be scheduled for the last visit of the day. Additionally, we encourage payment and rescheduling conversations to occur over the phone to reduce the amount of time patients spend in the office.
Along with pre-appointment screenings, we will be conducting a 48-hour follow-up phone call to ensure your health has not changed. We also ask you to inform us if you develop symptoms or test positive for COVID in the 10 days following your visit to our office. Our ability to prevent transmission means everything and contact tracing is how we will stay informed and keep our environment safe for employees and clients. Preventive measures will vary greatly across dental offices, we want to be the safest office in Tucson. By starting slowly and ensuring we know how to walk before we run will allow us to confidently and safely continue to see more patients as time goes on.
When aerosol-producing procedures are performed, we will continue to utilize high-volume suction and intra-oral barriers with built-in suction. We have always used these because they create a dry and clean environment that not only improves the quality of our dentistry, but also creates a vacuum effect that reduces aerosols and prevents water from pooling in your mouth. This device, known as a DryShield, also provides a cushion for you to bite on instead of holding your mouth open. Most patients find this more comfortable.
Skyline Dental is all about clean, concise, modern dentistry. From the outset, we embraced the digital workflow and the benefits of this are now more relevant than ever. We are completely paperless with iPads and web-based patient health histories, consent forms, payments and receipts. Digital x-rays and 3D scanning for dental impressions prevents circulating saliva and contaminants perpetually through our office and to partnering labs.
Our office has a supply of COVID-19 testing kits and we have also established a relationship and protocol with Sonora Quest Lab. This gives us the ability to test our team regularly. It also allows us to test in the event our contact tracing has triggered an alert. Our hope is we never need to use this supply, but it is good to know we can quickly test if we suspect exposure.
Though we value the relations and trust built over casual conversations, hugs, handshakes, and sharing photos on our phones, at this time we need to deliver care in the safest manner possible. To do so, we will be moving all of our discussions and consultations regarding treatment needs, financing, and at-home hygiene coaching online. Minimizing your time in our office doesn’t mean we have to minimize our face time, build relationships, trust, and make treatment decisions together as patient and provider. Because we already digitize our dental records including x-rays, photos, and impressions, most in-office conversations involve us showing you your teeth and conditions on an iPad or computer screen.
We can connect the night before to answer any questions you have before your visit and follow up after your appointment should you have any questions or concerns.
Initial visits will be 20-30 minutes and we will take all the information we need. You can then leave while we review your x-rays and photos to create recommendations that we can discuss on a future video conference call. We suspect many of you will not complain about shorter visit times or the ability to discuss treatment options with you from the comfort of your home.
Our team is excited to continue working with you to improve and maintain your oral health in the safest way possible. We appreciate your support during the unique situation that we are all living through and we are happy to answer any questions you may have. It is our goal to create a safe environment and we will continue to develop our strategies to adapt to the most up-to-date recommendations and findings.