COVID-19 has changed almost every aspect of our lives including our regular dental appointments. Today, we discuss the new rules and regulations that are in place when you come to visit your Manitoba orthodontist during these current, uncertain times.
Preserving Oral Health While Staying Safe
Many of our patients are wondering if it is safe to visit their orthodontist during the current COVID-19 situation. In the late spring/early summer of 2020, lots of the restrictions were lifted in provinces across Canada and patients could attend dental appointments again. However, you might notice that your orthodontist looks different and that there are measures to follow in order to help keep patients and staff safe.
While attending dental appointments is a critical part of your oral health as you continue through orthodontic treatment, there are a handful of health questions and concerns that arise just in the actions of coming in to see your orthodontist. Because we are still in the pandemic, extra precautions have to be taken to make sure everyone stays safe.
New Rules & Regulations Under COVID-19
For your orthodontist’s office to stay open during the pandemic, all updated safety rules from provincial regulating bodies and governments must be met. Orthodontists must adhere to this guidance, along with the most up-to-date information from their province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health when providing care. This includes:
- Scheduling appointments to allow patients to physically distance themselves. There must also be time for treatment areas to be disinfected between each appointment. Keep in mind that everyone is now on a time crunch, this means you may need to book an appointment further ahead or there will be less flexibility in your orthodontist’s daily schedule.
- Potentially waiting outside. Depending on the office, you may be asked to wait outside and call when you arrive. You’ll be notified when it’s appropriate to enter.
- Socially distanced waiting rooms. You’ll find chairs are spaced 2 metres apart. There will be no magazines, toys or other non-essential items as we try to reduce the number of touchable surfaces.
- Answering screening questions. Before your appointment, your orthodontist or their staff will ask you pre-screening questions to learn whether you have any symptoms of COVID-19. You’ll need to answer these questions again when you arrive on the day of your appointment, in addition to having your temperature taken with a touchless thermometer.
- Using hand sanitizer. When you arrive, you’ll be asked to use a 70 to 90 percent alcohol-based solution, or soap and water, upon entering or leaving the office.
- Rescheduling appointments for sick patients. If you have any flu-like symptoms (difficulty breathing, cough, fever), or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, please stay home. If you have an upcoming orthodontic appointment, please call your orthodontic office to report symptoms, reschedule or inquire about other care options.
- Wearing a face mask. Except for while you are being treated, you will be asked to wear a face mask or covering while in your orthodontist’s office.
- Protective gear for office staff and orthodontists. In addition to surgical face masks, your orthodontist and their staff will wear correct personal protective equipment (PPE) during in-person appointments.
- Attending your appointment alone. Plan to attend your appointment alone, as fewer people in the office is always better. Exceptions are made for children and people who require assistance. If the patient needs a parent or caregiver, that person will also be subject to all screening questions/measures.
- Paying via touchless payment. Plan to use your debit card or credit card to pay any balance owing on your appointment.
If you are having an orthodontic emergency and aren't sure what you should do, the first step you should take is to call your orthodontist and explain to them your situation. They will be able to offer you advice on what you should do. If you have to visit the office, they will tell you if they are able to help you or refer you to another dental professional or emergency clinic.
What is an Orthodontic Emergency?
Orthodontic emergencies could include:
- Broken orthodontic appliances, or wires poking into your cheek that you can’t temporarily fix yourself.
- Experiencing an intense amount of pain that can’t be resolved by taking over-the-counter pain medication or rinsing with saltwater to reduce inflammation.
In these situations, call our office as quickly as possible and we will do our best to get you in as fast as we can. Meanwhile, apply ice to the affected area. If part of your orthodontic appliance has broken, try to find it, and bring it with you to your appointment.