Governor Inslee’s order to suspend routine dental care during the initial stages of the COVID-19 outbreak is finally coming to an end on May 18th, 2020. The governor recently revised his order to allow for the provision of care which would “progress, or be at risk to progress” if left untreated. Dental decay which has reached dentin is always progressive, and cannot be stopped without intervention. Decay in baby teeth can progress very rapidly in some cases, going from needing a simple filling to needing a baby root canal and crown. Sometimes, tooth decay in baby teeth, when neglected, can even progress to a point at which the tooth cannot be saved and then needs to be extracted — a very disappointing outcome for parents and pediatric dentists alike!
For this reason, I am so pleased that we are returning to the provision of fillings (when needed) and to routine examinations, x-rays, cleanings and fluoride treatments for kids! When it comes to dentistry, prevention is BEST!
Seattle Pediatric Dentist Office Reopening Plan
As we return to the office, you may be wondering what type of modifications we’re making to keep you and your family safe from coronavirus. Because dentists have already been in the practice of maintaining strict infection control precautions prior to the coronavirus outbreak, we are uniquely prepared to implement the additional safety precautions that will be required moving forward. After carefully considering the guidance put forth by the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, I have crafted a plan for returning to practice.
At The Tooth Ferry Pediatric Dentistry, I have decided to limit your exposure to other people when visiting the office by only seeing one family at a time. Everyone in the family who will be coming into the office will be screened and have a temperature check at the door upon entering the office. We ask that all parents/caregivers and children over the age of 2 wear a mask in the office (we will provide one if you don’t have one), and office staff will maintain 6 feet of social distancing from parents and caregivers during your child’s visit.
Aerosolizing procedures (such as fillings) will be carried-out in the “closed” operative treatment room and the room will be allowed to rest for 40 minutes after each procedure, which is the amount of time it takes for the air in the room to completely recycle through our HVAC system (meaning all of the room air will be completely filtered after each patient treatment procedure). In addition, The Tooth Ferry has upgraded our HVAC system with HEPA filters, which provide a level of filtration that catches 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns, the “most penetrating particle size” (most often evades other types of air filtration). My assistant and I will also be wearing N95 masks, disposable gowns, caps, gloves and eye protection for all aerosolizing procedures, providing the highest level of protection from transmission of COVID. Additionally, The Tooth Ferry will continue to use Silhouette brand nitrous oxide masks, the tubing and mask component of which are completely disposable after each use. This means your child will never be breathing from a nitrous oxide mask that was used for another patient.
Our “closed” operative treatment room
Our new protocols will be implemented in addition to all of the infection control protocols that were already in place prior to COVID, such as all surfaces being disinfected between patients, the use of rigorous sterilization procedures for all instruments and meticulous hand-hygiene being performed between patients.
The Tooth Ferry Advantage
At The Tooth Ferry, we are a small, local, family-owned and -run practice, so we don’t have a large staff of assistants and doctors at the office. It’s just myself, my office manager Josh and our lead assistant Carrie. We screen ourselves for COVID-19 symptoms and take our temperatures every morning when coming to the office, and, of course, we would never work with signs of illness or fever.
We hope with these protocols in place, you and your family will feel safe visiting The Tooth Ferry for your child’s dental care needs and we look forward to seeing you at the office as things get back to the “new normal”!