Addressing the Covid-19 Pandemic at Stummer Dental

Since the early 1980’s, dentistry has been at the cutting edge of infection control starting with the AIDS epidemic. At that point, masks and gloves became standard. Now all of healthcare, and society as a whole, is trying to control the spread of another infectious disease, Covid-19. Covid-19 is more easily transmitted than AIDS, therefore, more precautions must be taken. Transmission is caused by breathing in enough of the Covid-19 virus to cause illness or likewise touching your mucous membranes with the virus on your hands. People can breath in the virus when it enters the air in an aerosol formed by coughing, singing, loud talking, sneezing and even breathing. Multiple simple steps are taken by Stummer Dental in order to address the aerosols formed by us and our patients, be it in the waiting room or the operatories. These precautions must be taken by everyone in case someone has the virus and doesn’t know it.

Prior to dental visit

At the beginning of the day and multiple times throughout, the commonly used surfaces, like door handles and bathroom faucets, are wiped down with an agent that kills viruses. Operatories are thoroughly cleaned before and between patients as well. Rooms are alternated as much as possible to allow aerosols to fall to the ground or go through the air purifier. All instruments are sterilized, as they always have been. All employees have their temperatures checked at the beginning of the day and are not to report to work if they are ill. Patients are kept apart physically as much as possible. If feasible, patients are asked to call from their cars prior to entering the building and all patients are required to a wear a mask into the building. Each patient is surveyed for any Covid-19 symptoms immediately upon arrival. Their temperatures are taken. They are also queried about travel and whom they may have seen. All concerns relative to their health and any risks that are posed are addressed before they can enter the operatory.

During the visit

Once the patient is seated in the operatory, their health history is reviewed and they are asked to rinse their mouths with a hydrogen peroxide solution, often Listerine, to reduce the viral presence. Our staff wears both an N95 and level 3 mask, as well as a shield for any type of aerosol-producing procedure. A new surgical gown is donned for each patient. And, of course, gloves are changed between patients and if anything is touched that is not known to be clean.

After the visit

Patients are asked to don their masks again after leaving the operatory. If someone becomes ill with Covid-19 within 14 days of their visit, they are asked to let us know as soon as possible. All of these cautionary measures are to minimize risk in case someone unknowingly comes to the office while infected with Covid-19. We aim to protect the health and smiles of our patients and make their experience as comfortable as possible during this unusual time!