COVID-19 has changed almost every aspect of our lives, including our orthodontist appointments. We'll go over the new rules and regulations for seeing your British Columbia orthodontist during these trying times in this post.
Staying Safe While Preserving Oral Health
Many patients are unsure whether it is safe to visit their orthodontist while COVID-19 is still present. Many restrictions were lifted in provinces across Canada in late spring/early summer 2020, allowing patients to see their orthodontist again. However, you may notice that your orthodontist's office looks very different, and protocols must be followed to keep staff and patients safe.
While attending orthodontic appointments is critical to your oral health as you progress through treatment, there are health questions and concerns that arise simply by showing up for your appointment. Because the pandemic is still ongoing, extra precautions are required to keep everyone safe.
New Rules & Regulations Under COVID-19
To remain open during a pandemic, your orthodontist's office must adhere to all updated safety regulations issued by provincial regulating bodies and governments. When providing care, orthodontics must follow this guidance in conjunction with the most up-to-date information from their province's Chief Medical Officer of Health. This includes the following:
- Scheduling appointments to allow patients to physically distance. There must also be time between appointments for disinfection of treatment areas. Keep in mind that everyone is on a tight schedule these days, which means you may need to schedule an appointment further in advance or that your orthodontist's daily schedule will be less flexible.
- 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. The chairs are spaced 2 metres apart. As we try to reduce the number of touchable surfaces, there will be no magazines, toys, or other non-essential items.
- Answering screening questions. Before your appointment, your orthodontist or their staff will ask you pre-screening questions to determine if you have COVID-19 symptoms. When you arrive for your appointment, you'll be asked to answer these questions again, as well as have 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. Stay at home if you have any flu-like symptoms (difficulty breathing, cough, fever), or if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. If you have an upcoming orthodontic appointment, please call to report symptoms, reschedule, or inquire about alternative 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. During in-person appointments, your orthodontist and their staff will wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) in addition to surgical face masks.
- Attending your appointment alone. Attend your appointment alone if possible, as fewer people in the office are always preferable. Children and those in need of assistance are given special consideration. If the patient requires the assistance of a parent or caregiver, that person will be subject to all screening questions and measures as well.
- Paying via touchless payment. Plan to use your debit card or credit card to pay any balance owing on your appointment.
Do you have a dental emergency and are unsure what to do? Call your orthodontist and explain your situation. They will be able to advise you on the best course of action to take. If you need to visit the office, they will tell you whether they can assist you or refer you to another orthodontist or emergency clinic.
What is an orthodontic emergency?
Orthodontic emergencies can involve:
- Broken orthodontic appliances, or wires poking into your cheek that you can’t fix yourself temporarily.
- 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 cases, please contact our office as soon as possible so that we can schedule an appointment for you. Meanwhile, ice the affected area. If a piece of your orthodontic appliance has broken, try to locate it and bring it with you to your next appointment.