We are learning more about this virus every day, and our office is staying updated to be on the forefront. Some questions have been brought up recently, and Dr. Adam Ozment has provided the answers below in an interview.
Are your offices open?
Yes, our offices have never actually closed. We have been seeing emergencies and urgent care as described by our national and state dental societies.
What is considered to be an emergency, or urgent care situation?
We are seeing patients for toothaches, oral pathology, facial trauma, wisdom tooth pain and infections. The American Dental Association has provided detailed guidelines, which you can view here.
What changes have you made to help make patients feel safe?
Since we remained open, we have had to be keenly aware of changes in procedures needing to be done to give our patients and staff the safest environment possible. Currently, we are trying to only have one patient at a time in our office. We built in more time to treat each patient and have changed our system for screening patients pre-treatment. Also, we currently are asking family members who accompany patients to wait in their cars while treatment is being performed. We are taking temperatures when anyone enters the building and have increased our cleaning and sterilization. As an example, previous to the pandemic, we cleaned the room before and after each patient treatment. Now we are cleaning the room before and after, letting the room sit empty for several hours, and then cleaning again before seating a patient in the room. We have also changed the PPE we are wearing to include N95 masks and face shields.
Are you still offering IV Sedation?
Yes, IV sedation is very helpful for many emergency patients.
What should someone do if they are having dental pain today?
They should call their general dentist. If their general dentist is not available, they should call our office.
Are you still removing wisdom teeth?
Yes, pain caused by wisdom teeth is considered a dental urgency.
Are you doing telemedicine?
Yes, call our office if you are interested in a remote consultation.
What has been the hardest part with regard to your work?
As of this interview, most dentists are not open and so people are not able to be treated. Currently, we are seeing anywhere from four to seven emergencies daily. In normal times, almost all of those cases could have been treated by their general dentist. Unfortunately, since dentistry is not currently operating, people in some cases are only able to talk to their dentist on the phone. The delay and the inability to quickly be seen by a dentist has led to the increased severity in the dental issues we are seeing in our office. As an example, a tooth ache that could have been treated as a root canal at one point proceeds to worsen until the patient develops an infection that necessitates a surgery and in some cases a hospitalization.
Does the fact that your offices are open alleviate the burden on local hospitals?
We are considered an essential business. If patients would call to get treated when they have pain, this would alleviate the burden on the hospital. Unfortunately, we are seeing more hospital cases because patients are hesitant to come in to be treated. Infections progress, and then hospitalization is necessary. Today I had a patient admitted to the ICU, which is rare.
What’s the silver lining for you?
At the beginning of this pandemic, Dr. Bruksch said that times like these are what define you. We are very proud of our staff and the way they have tackled this challenge. I think it is important to remember how we were feeling back at the start of this because there was a lot of fear and anxiety of the unknown. Our staff wanted to do their part in helping their community, and we truly appreciate their professional response to this crisis.