Not just dental care. Dental Caring.
To our Cochrane Dental Family:
It has been a long two months that the office has been closed due to the pandemic, but we have been very busy collecting information and working on new protocols to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission for you and our team.
As our office begins a staged reopening, we want to assure you that the health and safety of our patients and staff comes first. Please be patient with us as we all adjust to the new normal of dental care.
We are issuing a separate list of the protocols that will impact you directly, such as COVID-19 screening, temperature taking, paperless forms, waiting in your car, wearing masks, using hand sanitizer, pre-rinsing with hydrogen peroxide and social distancing.
But there are other behind-the-scenes protocols that we wanted to share to hopefully make you feel more comfortable about your next visit.
Dentistry presents a challenge to airborne infection control due to the creation of aerosols. Aerosols that are created routinely by dental handpieces or hygiene ultrasonic cleaners used in the mouth can remain in the air for up to 3 hours. As such, we have implemented changes to minimize this risk in the event that one of our patients is an asymptomatic virus carrier.
We will no longer be using ultrasonic hygiene handpieces for dental cleanings. For the time being, your hygienist will be limited to manual instruments, and final polishing will be done on front teeth using new high-evacuation suctioning systems to prevent any saliva splatter.
Dental procedures, wherever possible, will be done with the use of a rubber dam or similar device that creates a barrier between the patient’s saliva and the spray of the handpiece. Procedures such as crown preparations, which cannot be done with a rubber dam will be scheduled for times when the room will not be in use afterward, such as before lunch and at the end of the day.
We have installed strong multilayered air filters in each room that draw air through a series of HEPA filters and then through a UV-C chamber that kills microorganisms. In addition to our existing protocols of disinfecting all surfaces after each patient, we will be fogging each room with a solution of hypochlorous acid, a disinfectant safe for humans and animals but deadly to bacteria and viruses. We feel confident that these state-of-the-art additions to our infection control protocols will provide a safe environment for you and allow us to focus on your oral health.
We will look a little different. We will be wearing surgical caps, long barrier gowns, professionally-fitted respirators and face shields. Be patient with us as we adjust; this extra PPE is uncomfortable and makes it more difficult for us to see and breathe. All dental staff will be changing masks, shields and clinical gowns between every patient to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
We will be scheduling fewer patients per day to allow for more time to clean and fog the room, change all PPE and allow social distancing between patients. We will also be implementing short-term non-traditional hours to accommodate our patients in a workforce that is going back to work. We may need to hire more team members, so you may see some new faces.
We believe that in the near future virus and antibody testing will be the best way to keep our community healthy long term. We have communicated with our state representative, state dental society, and local epidemiologists about the importance of access to routine testing for the safety of all dental patients in Massachusetts.
And finally, with all the new PPE and barrier methods required, we are ever-conscious about the amount of “disposable” waste we are creating. Wherever possible, we are coming up with ideas to re-sterilize for reuse, and to minimize plastics and other disposables. We love our patients, but we love our planet, too!
Should you have any questions about your next visit, please feel free to ask us when you call, and we will try to answer any questions you may have. There are still so many unknowns with this virus, but we have been diligent about going above and beyond the standard requirements to protect you the best that we can.
We thank you for putting your trust in us.
In health and happiness,
Rebecca Cochrane, DMD, PhD