Several dental offices have started to reopen across the country with many changes to their protocols to comply with guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Dental Association (ADA). These guidelines and resources are general recommendations for dental offices to consider as they design and implement their own protocols. Feel free to use them as you slowly open your office back up to patients or keep them in mind when creating your reopening plan!
It is important to prepare your staff to answer common questions patients will have about COVID-19 and your office’s measures to keep them safe. Communication is more important than ever as patients are concerned about getting back out into the world. Here are a few ways to reassure your patients:Welcome Back Email
- The ADA has provided dentists a great Return-to-Work Toolkit that includes a sample welcome back reassurance email message. This email is an opportunity to let your patients know the measures you are taking to provide them a safe and helpful environment.
- Create a patient screening form to collect information before the patient’s appointment. Screening can be done over the phone or you can send the form to the patient’s email to complete before their visit.
- Include questions about any recent travel or if they have been in contact with someone with COVID-19.
Add FAQ to your Website
- Include information about COVID-19 and oral health related questions on your practice website. You can gather a few of these question on the ADA’s website.
- Provide resources for your patients about how they can take care of their oral health while social distancing and teledentistry options, if you offer them.
- Include information on strategies and measures the office has taken to create a healthy and safe environment.
New Dental Office Protocol
Before opening the doors to your practice, have a few procedures set in place for your staff and patients to protect them. Get your office COVID-19 ready with these tips:Reception Area Preparation
- Provide a hand sanitation station upon entry into facility, with a notice to people to use it before entering the rest of the office.
- Provide tissues, trash cans, soap at bathroom sinks, and alcohol-based hand wipes.
- Place chairs 6 feet apart, when possible. Use barriers (like screens), if possible.
- Clean reception area/ waiting area regularly with approved surface cleaner. Remember to include tables, chair arms, doorknobs, light switches, and anything else with which people come in contact.
Depending on your office design, you might consider having your patients wait in their car and call them when you are ready for them to come inside. This is not practical for all offices, so use your own judgment. For patients who do not drive, have a separate plan, and provide instructions for entering the practice before their visit.Patient Registration Process
- Check patient’s temperature (<100.4°F) with thermometer or a touchless forehead scan, though any thermometer is appropriate if cleaned appropriately between uses.
- Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- If elevated temperature is noted, follow through with asking screening questions and alert the dentist.
- Front desk staff can wear masks, goggles, or face shields. Offices can also, install a clear barrier between reception and the waiting area.
- Consider individual phone headsets for each front desk staffer to avoid sharing a desk phone.
- Instruct staff to clean hands thoroughly when they arrive to work, before and after any contact with a patient, and after any contact with a contaminated surface. Refer to the ADA’s Hand Hygiene for the Dental Team.
- The ADA suggests implementing a daily health screening check point for all staff entering the office. Create a log to record the employee’s temperature, how they feel, if they have a cough or shortness of breath, remember to respect their confidentiality.
These guidelines will help protect your office staff and patients as you slowly reopen your office. Practice safety procedures with your staff before introducing them to your patients to make sure you are fully prepared to help lower their risk of coronavirus transmission. For more information on the resources available to help your practice keep providing top-quality care during this time, check out our blog on the CARES Act and teledentistry! To start your preparation on your reception area, download our free Reception Area Protection Checklist by clicking the image below!