What You Need to Know About Visiting the Dentist During a Pandemic

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has swept across Maryland, the United States, and much of the world, leaving restaurants, businesses, and schools closed and sports and entertainment events cancelled or postponed. Government officials have urged or ordered citizens to stay at home and limit contact with others. It’s an unprecedented time in our history, and people understandably have a lot of questions. One that we hear quite often is, “is it safe to visit the dentist?” Patients first need to know that dental offices like Ellicott Mills Dental provide vital medical services, so we’ll always be available when our patients require emergency treatments and procedures. Here are some other tips you’ll need to know.

Keep Your Distance

We’ve all heard of social distancing by now, and it’s a good course of action to take, especially when out in public. Chances are you won’t encounter many, if any, other patients at a dental practice during a pandemic, as most offices will be limiting office visits, including cancelling or postponing routine cleanings and cosmetic treatments. If others are present, stay at least six feet away and avoid direct contact.

Stay Home When Sick

If you suspect you may be ill, stay home and remain in quarantine. That might not always be possible, however, for those experiencing pain and facing a dental emergency. If that is the case, call your dentist to see what special precautions you might need to take. If a patient is contagious, an emergency procedure may be moved to an alternate location that is equipped to deal with infectious situations. Even if you’re not sick, always call the office first as they may want to delay non-essential procedures. Patients in the at-risk category – those of advanced age or with compromised immune systems – should avoid office visits except in cases of emergency.

Protect Yourself

Dentists and technicians don’t need to be the only ones wearing protective equipment. Many patients feel safer when donning facial masks, gloves, and eye protection. Avoid touching surfaces like arm rests, door handles, and counter tops, and never touch your face before thoroughly scrubbing your hands with soap and warm water. If you’ll be filling out forms, bring your own writing instrument to avoid handling public pens. 

Exam Room Safety

When you go into the examination room, you should feel comfortable knowing that all equipment has been sanitized, but you can always ask the technician to wipe down the chair or other utensils if it makes you feel better. And please comply if the staff asks you to wash your hands, wear a protective gown, use hand sanitizer, or take any other safety precautions. It’s all designed to maintain a healthy and germ-free environment for you, the dental professionals, and other patients. The most important work that goes into keeping your teeth and gums healthy is what you do at home. But in times of crisis when routine cleanings are being postponed, home oral health care is more vital than ever. And now that individuals are spending most, if not all, of their time in the home, there should be more opportunity than ever to keep up with daily dental care. Be sure to brush at least twice a day, and always floss before going to bed. If you share your home with others, be sure to keep toothbrushes separated, and carefully dispose of any brushes if you’ve been sick. And remember, if you have any questions, the team at Ellicott Mills Dental is only a phone call away!

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