Last Updated 6th of June 2020
We would like to thank you for bearing with us whilst we are working hard to reopen our practice safely. In this blog we would like to update you on our progress towards reopening and describe the pathway we will have to follow as our ‘New Normal’. The new measures, described below, will make your dental experience slightly different than the pre-COVID-19 era.
Earlier this week (1st and 2nd of June 2020), guidelines from our dental governing bodies, gave us a framework to plan our return to practice. It appears that the treatments we will be allowed to offer will be based on the UK ‘Alert Risk’ as determined by the COVID- reproduction number (R). Currently the COVID-19 alert risk level is 4 (the most severe level being 5).
According to the BDA, however, the official government advice document regarding the Standard Operating Procedures for Return to Dental Practice by the Office of the Chief Dental Officer is yet to be released. This essential document will govern our policies and procedures, which we have already started drafting based on the available guidance and advice so far.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all dental practices in the UK have been asked to take some additional measures to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading to our community. It should be remembered, however, that a dental practice is already an exceptionally clean environment compared to public areas, and there is no evidence of COVID-19 transmission occurring in increased rates in dentists or their staff.
We are likely to be asked to take a phased approach on our return, prioritising care for the patients who have had pain or dental problems during lockdown, or patients who currently experience an urgent dental emergency (e.g pain and swelling). We have been advised that dental procedures which generate aerosols, such as using the drill, should not be considered whilst the country is at an Alert Risk Level of 4 and 5. Therefore, we may still have to refer some of our patients to the Urgent Dental Care (UDC) hubs, in certain circumstances.
We will be able see patients by appointment only. We would recommend that patients in the high-risk groups for developing complications from Coronavirus should delay routine dental treatment for as long as possible until the trend of the pandemic becomes clear.
Three days before your appointment date, we will email you a medical history questionnaire, a COVID-19 screening questionnaire and a consent form, which you will be asked to fill out and return via email. If you have any difficulties with completing the forms, we can help you with this over the phone. We may carry out a video consultation with you prior to your visit where indicated. If we do not receive the completed questionnaires in time and we are unable to contact you, we may need to cancel your appointment.
We will also contact you the day before your appointment to discuss the information included in the forms and to go through any concerns you may have about your dental health.
If you or someone in your household, feel unwell or suffer with any COVID-19 symptoms (such as persistent cough, a temperature over 37.5 oc or loss of taste and smell), we will ask you to postpone any routine dental appointments until your symptoms have resolved. If, however, you experience an urgent dental emergency, we will arrange a referral to a local UDC hub, if appropriate.
We may also ask you to pay in advance for your appointment and any sundries you may wish to purchase. We will no longer be able to take cash payments.
Before you leave home for your appointment, please ensure you are well hydrated, you have used the toilet and you have cleaned your teeth.
Please only bring essential items with you and preferably leave valuables at home.
Please attend your appointment on your own, unless you require assistance, or you are supporting a child or someone vulnerable.
The front door will remain locked. Please call us when you arrive and remain in your car or outside the practice – respecting social distancing advice. We will call you when we are ready for you and there are no other patients in the reception area. If you are using public transport, please let us know the day before so that we can make the necessary arrangements for you to wait inside safely.
Our receptionist or nurse will open the door for you, wearing personal protective equipment such as mask and a visor. Our staff will be regularly disinfecting all common areas including door handles and surfaces between patients.
We will ask you to sanitise your hands, and leave any coat, bags and belongings in a box at reception to minimise contamination of your clothing with aerosols. You may be offered a mask to wear.
You will find that the practice may appear to be quite bare when you attend. During this time, our patient lounge is not in use – we are no longer able to offer coffee and tea facilities, magazines, newspapers or children’s toys.
We will take you through into one of the surgeries which would have been thoroughly disinfected and cleaned.
The correct application of hand sanitiser is shown above
Your dentist and dental nurse will welcome you in the surgery wearing all the necessary personal protective equipment in line with current recommendations. The type of personal protective equipment we will be using will differ based on the type of procedures you will be having (aerosol generating procedures ie those using the drill or ultrasonic scalers will require enhanced PPE). Don’t worry though, we are still the same lovely smiley people behind the masks!
We will no longer be able to shake your hand. We apologise in advance for the necessary reduction in social interaction. Whilst our masks may make us appear impersonal and distant, please be assured we are still the same friendly team underneath it all!
We will ask you to keep your mask on until treatment starts and you will be given a tissue to catch a cough or sneeze to help keep the surgery environment clean.
The room may be a little cooler than it used to be as we have fresh air circulating. Please come prepared to keep yourself warm with extra layers.
Once your treatment is complete you will be asked to put your mask back on, collect your belongings from the box held in reception and sanitise your hands again.
If you need to see the receptionist, please stand as requested on the floor marker respecting the social distancing recommendations. There will be a screen at reception and our reception staff will also be wearing a mask and/or visor as well.
Your dentist may contact you after your appointment to discuss anything further and to book any appointments that may be required.
With best wishes
The Dee Shapland Dental Team
Find out about COVID-19 symptoms
Find out about People at Higher Risk from Coronovirus
This blog has been written by our Associate Dentist Anastasios Plessas and Principal Dentist Nicholas Dee Shapland.
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Dee Shapland Dental will be reopening on Monday 15 June.
Thank you for your patience whilst we finalise the huge amount of compliance and training in order to provide you with safe and effective care.
We will be contacting our patients who have had a dental emergency or problems initially and we ask that if you have a dental emergency in the meantime please call: 07778059518 to speak to Nick or Anastasios who will endeavour to help you.
Please click on the link below to read our latest blogs describing our return to practice and your ‘new dental journey’. If you visit our Facebook page, Anastasios has made a short video to help you plan for your next visit.
We look forward to seeing you soon.
Nick, Anastasios & All the Dee Shapland Dental team