At All Smiles Orthodontics, we have always taken sterilization seriously, for the safety of our patients, their families, and our team members. Our office follows infection control recommendations made by the American Dental Association (ADA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). We follow the activities of these agencies so that we are up-to-date on any new rulings or guidance that may be issued. This allows us to make sure that our infection control procedures are current and adhere to or exceed each agency’s recommendations.
What does this mean?
This is a term used to define the level of sterilization and infection control utilized in most health care settings, including ours. Basically, it’s meant to protect patients and team members from potential infection of each other, or cross-contamination or infection of others. It is based on the premise that you must treat every person as if they may have an illness or potentially contagious disease for everyone’s safety. The reason is, each individual may be contagious, and either was unaware or chose not to disclose. Either way, working under these assumptions is why the term, taking Universal Precautions is used.
Here are some of the ways we practice Universal Precautions in our offices, for everyone’s safety:
- We sterilize all instruments that can be, and use disposable instruments and supplies for those that can’t.
- Our sterilizers are monitored and checked monthly to make sure they are functioning optimally.
- We wear new gloves on all patients, as well as masks on procedures with close patient contact.
- Face shields are worn for any procedure with aerosols, as well as disposable jackets/gowns
- All surfaces are disinfected as needed and appropriate in between each patient. The office is continuously cleaned and disinfected throughout the day.
- We have hand sterilizer readily available for parents and patients as needed.
- We utilize HEPA air filtration with UV light to improve air purity and kill viruses and other pathogens.
We will continue with all of the Universal precautions that we have discussed, and have made some additional changes once we re-open up to the POST COVID-19 “new normal”. These initial changes are made due to the seriousness of the pandemic, and our alignment with our government efforts to reduce the spread of this contagious disease.
The most noticeable differences will be the following:
- Pre-screening for illness- This is designed to maintain awareness of how significantly contagious COVID-19 is, and to protect as many people as possible. All staff will be pre-screened each day, and every patient and accompanying adult (as needed) will be prescreened prior to each appointment.
- This will consist of an updated health history including the signing of a questionnaire and release.
- Each person’s temperature will be taken prior to work or being seen in the office. Anyone with a temperature reading higher than 100.4 will be turned away.
- Social distancing- This has been advised and in some cases mandated by the government as an additional effective way of reducing the spread of COVID-19. This included shutdown of many businesses for a period of time, as well as the Phased-in reopening. The goal is to reduce the concentration of people in an area and maintain distance between people as much as possible or practical. Some of the changes at our offices many will notice include:
- Virtual check-in and checkout from the comfort of your car. We will let you know when we are ready to check you and/or your child in, as opposed to waiting in the waiting room with other people. After the appointment, we will notify you and escort the patient to you, rescheduling the appointment virtually as possible. * For your convenience and continued quality care in the future, we will be providing an increasing number of virtual appointments! This will obviously depend on the type of appointment, such as Invisalign or other short checks, Kids Club Observation, etc.
- Staggering lines at the front desk at 6 feet as possible and staggering patients every other chair or with dividers. You will also see barriers to help provide some distancing and isolation at check-in and front desk areas.
- All procedures that develop significant aerosol will be held in semi-private or private locations.
- Potential cross-contamination in the reception area requires the removal of magazines, coffee stations, etc. Of course, we hope this is only a temporary change!
- And of course, clean, clean, clean. Continuous wiping and disinfecting surfaces, door handles, etc.
Some of the changes will remain and become a new way of delivering care. Others will gradually cease as the extra steps become deemed unnecessary or impractical. Either way, everything we do is for the safety and health of our patients, their families, and our team. We appreciate your understanding as we all work together through some of these new processes!
We look forward to seeing you again and are happy to answer any questions you may have about the steps we take to keep you, and every patient, safe in our practice. To make an appointment, please call our office at 727-442-6098 or visit our website at allsmiles.com. Thank you for being our patient. We value your trust and loyalty and look forward to welcoming back our patients, neighbors and friends.
– Ernest H. McDowell, DMD