Patient Information for Re-Opening

Information you need before we re-open at the beginning of July.

Dear Patients,

We are pleased to be re-opening our dental practice at the end of June. We have already been booking in the dental emergencies and in July we will start routine dentistry. Like in all industries, we have been working hard to digest the updated guidance from all the regulatory bodies, to ensure that when we return, we are keeping to protocols of best practice.

This information outlines the modifications to our normal procedures that we intend to adopt following the reduction in coronavirus peak infection in the UK. It is not known at this time whether these alterations in procedure will be temporary or a permanent feature. Our view is that the coronavirus will continue to emerge in the population and that to ensure the safety of patients and staff, these measures are likely to be long term.

Historically the dental profession has responded well to other infectious disease such as HIV, Herpes, Hepatitis, CJD, and seasonal Influenza. In each situation, protocols are reviewed, and new measures put in place.

Dental surgeries have been one of the cleanest medical environments that a patient can enter, and cases of clinic acquired infections are negligible, unlike hospitals that battle with hospital acquired infections (HAIs) and MRSA’s and the like.

However, it is the way in which dental procedures produce a spray and mist (called ‘aerosol’) that is the current concern. It is important to protect staff from the aerosol during these procedures, and then essential that the surgery is clean before the following patient is treated.

As a new private dental practice, we are in a good position to implement changes as our procedures are already carried out in a ‘slow’ and ‘safe’ manner. We ensure that plenty of time is given to 1. the preparation of the surgeries, 2. the dental procedures, and 3. the cleaning of the clinic after the treatments. In summary it is in all these three areas that even more time will be needed to adhere to the strictest protocols of Infection Control.

Please read the following Information

Practice Opening

  • We will be opening on Monday 22nd June 2020 and providing a limited dental service for emergency and essential treatments. We are grateful for your patience as we prioritise patients with the most need.
  • To start there will be a strict policy of ‘one in one out’ so each patient will be the ONLY patient in the practice.
  • As the pandemic restrictions are lifted, we may be able to open a further surgery and time appointments to reduce patient interaction.

Pre-Assessment, Risk Assessment, Medical Questionnaire and Consent

  • We will send you this letter, some medical questions related to Covid-19, and a consent form. Please read through the information and sign the paperwork. We would prefer to have this information 2-3 days before your appointments so that we can make sure you are eligible for treatment.
  • The pre-assessment significantly reduces the risk to staff and patients.
  • If we feel that you are a high risk of having been infected, we will respectfully ask to delay your appointment for up to a month
  • If you have any difficulties with the forms then please call us on 01425 489283, the phone lines are now open.
  • We will attempt to send the documents via a text link for remote form filling and signing as this will update our software directly. However, we may use email or post as a backup.
  • You may receive a call or text to confirm your appointment, and we will confirm you have completed the paperwork.
  • You may also prefer to make a BACS payment for treatment to reduce the reliance on the card machine. We will be accepting card payments, but not cash and cheque.

Travel & Hygiene

  • When travelling to the practice we would recommend that you limit your close contact with other members of the public.
  • We would ask that you arrive 15 minutes before your appointment.
  • Please ensure that you have been to the toilet and washed your hands.
  • Please carry hand sanitiser with you if you have some and avoid touching your face.
  • If you have a mask, then you can wear this to the practice and remove it when you are asked.
  • We also have hand sanitiser and masks at your disposal.
  • If you are travelling with another person, we would ask that you come into the surgery alone.
  • Wait in your car until you are asked to enter the building.
  • Please leave any unnecessary items in the car.

Entering the Practice

  • We want to give you a warm welcome, and you will be asked to come into the practice and then you will be given instructions throughout the visit.
  • We do not need to be exhaustive in terms of detailing our protocols because you will be instructed on the day, and it is all quite straight forward.
  • A summary is hand sanitising, a temperature check, possibly a disposable head cover and shoe covers, and leaving your belongings in the waiting room (if you have not left them in the car).
  • Our receptionist will want to talk to you, and she will be wearing a visor. Once she is seated and if you are waiting, you will be able to have a safe face to face chat.
  • All common areas will be regularly disinfected.

Entering the Clinic

  • At the start you will have a disinfectant mouth rinse.
  • We may give you an extra disposable bib to wear along with the normal dental apron we use.
  • Our team has spent time removing any ‘clutter’ and non-essential equipment
  • Our appointments will be slightly extended to allow for the preparation and donning of appropriate PPE and masks / respirators.
  • When you leave it may not be as easy for the dentists to have a discussion with you due to the types of masks being used. If it is necessary to talk it maybe a follow up telephone call.
  • When you leave the surgery, you will be asked to take a seat and then guided by the receptionist in terms of appointment bookings, payments, and departing.
  • We will have longer intervals between patients to allow for extra decontamination

Practice Equipment and Upgrades

  • There is an ‘air purification’ module that is recycling the air in the practice and using HEPA filters and ultraviolet light to eliminate the air-borne virus.
  • The surgeries and decontamination rooms are all negative pressure giving frequent air changes of up to 20 per hour.
  • Staff are equipped with the appropriate PPE and masks / respirators depending on which procedures are undertaken.
  • We will be using a type of fogging / spraying to further reduce the aerosol contamination and assist cleaning.
  • Upgrades to High Volume Suction in the surgeries.
  • Intra-oral scanners can now take a video of the teeth to make a 3-D virtual model that can be used in treatment planning and to reduce the number of dental impressions needed.

Dental Procedures

  • All staff have upgraded their PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) in line with the current guidelines. This includes FFP2 masks, FFP3 masks and respirators, visors, and gowns.
  • We apologise for any reduction in social interacting that this may necessitate.
  • It is almost impossible to carry out meaningful dental procedures without producing an aerosol which we will reduce aerosol by:
    • Using the extra suction modules reducing aerosol by over 90%
    • Use of dental rubber dam reduces aerosols by 30-90%
    • Our new FFP3 respirators filter up to 99% of ae

The Future – Dental Appointments and Frequency

  • It is apparent that the Coronavirus pandemic has hit dental business very hard, firstly being forced to close, and then having to alter how we treat patients.
  • We are confident that we can continue to deliver dentistry as before but like many other industries, there will need to be changes to some of our customs and habits such as:
    • Reducing the number of visits to the dentist and hygienist each year, and
    • Having longer appointment times
    • Continuing to use tele-consulting and remote prescribing if possible
  • We apologise for the delay in some of your dental appointments, but we will be working hard to get back on track, and prioritising those in urgent need and then more routine dentistry
  • If you have a dental plan, then you will have priority booking.
  • We will be booking slightly longer sessions for examination and hygienist appointments to give us more time to be thorough in the assessments and the treatments. The fees will increase for these sessions, but it is our aim to reduce the number of times patients visit the practice each year.
  • If you have an existing treatment plan, then the fees will not be changed.

If you have any questions about your dental visit, then please contact the practice. We are all looking forward to getting back to work!

Chris & Caroline Gollings, & the team at Southfield Dental Practice