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How to Safely Go to the Dentist During Coronavirus

How to Safely Go to the Dentist During Coronavirus

Governor Cuomo announced that dentist offices can open for routine dental care throughout the state. Here's what you need to know about staying safe.

On May 31, Governor Cuomo announced that dentist offices can reopen for non-emergency dental care throughout New York state. Dentist offices are, of course, different in nature from any other medical setting and therefore require specific steps to protect you and your family from COVID-19. Children should begin seeing the dentist as soon as their first tooth erupts, and  they should see the dentist every six months after that, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. 

Since offices have been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, you or your child may be just past or getting close to that six-month visit timeline. Now that offices are allowed to reopen, you can ensure your family’s oral health is taken care of. But before booking a cleaning for anyone in your family, read about these safety measures dentists and staff are taking to keep you safe, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health guidelines. Plus, you’ll find some tips and safety precautions you and your family can take to stay safe.

 What Dentist Offices are Doing to Keep You Safe

  • Screening all patients for COVID-19 symptoms via telephone before appointments by asking questions

  • Triaging all patients in need of dental care before appointment via telephone 

  • Screening patients for fever and COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival at the dental office

  • Ensuring all patient are wearing a face covering at all times, except when actually getting their teeth cleaned

  • Asking patient to put back on face mask at completion of dental care

  • Posting visual alerts to provide hand and respiratory hygiene instructions in the office

  • Providing supplies for respiratory hygiene (hand sanitizer, tissues)

  • Installing physical barriers between reception and patients 

  • Placing chairs in the waiting room 6 feet apart

  • Removing toys, magazines, and other frequently touched objects from waiting rooms

  • Limiting the number of people in the waiting room at one time (patients may opt to wait in the car)

  • Disinfecting surfaces more often

  • Cleaning, replacing, and covering tools between use

  • Covering your mouth with a rubber dental dam during cleanings

  • Minimize overlapping appointments in a given day

  • Reducing the number of staff working at a given time

Dental providers will be following a number of specific hand and respiratory hygiene precautions before entering patient rooms and after dental care is completed as well as dental equipment and cleaning recommendations. You can read more about it and about all safety precautions being taken by dental providers on the CDC’s website.

RELATED: Find a dentist for your kids

What You Should do if You Have a Dental Appointment Scheduled:

  • Stay home if you’re sick

  • Limit the person coming with you to only those absolutely necessary

  • Wear a face mask at all times you are not being examined by the dentist

  • Maintain at least 6 feet between you and any other patients and staff at all times

  • If you rely on magazines in waiting rooms to pass the time until your appointment, bring one with you

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Melissa Wickes

Author: Melissa Wickes, a graduate of Binghamton University and the NYU Summer Publishing Institute, is the production editor for NYMetroParents. She's written hundreds of articles to help New York parents make better decisions for their families. When she's not writing, you can find her eating pasta, playing guitar, or watching reality TV. See More

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