On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic. Since then, the situation has worsened rapidly every day!
On March 15, 2020, the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario strongly recommended that all non-essential and elective dental services should be suspended immediately. Emergency treatment should continue. The non-essential dental services would include periodic recare like teeth cleaning, X-rays and regular dental examinations, fillings of teeth that are not in pain, and orthodontic treatments etc.
On March 17, 2020, Ontario government enacted the State of Emergency. After the enactment, some major stores have closed their stores temporarily or reduce the hours of operations.
On March 21, 2020, City of Burlington announced its State of Emergency. Mayor Meed Ward asked all local malls and non-essential businesses to close for the time being.
As of today, March 22, 2020, in this world of 7.8 billion people, there have been over 335,000 confirmed cases with 13,000 death worldwide. That was 0.0335% of world people has been confirmed and the death rate of the disease was 3.88%. The real numbers are unknow however due to a lack of test kits, unknown reasons of death and possible lack of transparency or simply indifference.
As a family dentist and a health care provider in Burlington, I need to play a strong role in this battle against the virus. On one hand, I am socially responsible for not promoting or spreading the disease and on the other hand, I have to provide the essential dental care to patients.
Based on the guideline from my governing College and my duties to patients, I have sent out the message below a week ago to my patients through email and posted it on my website:
The COVID-19 pandemic has evolved rapidly since last week. Our dental governing organization has strongly recommended all non-essential and elective dental services be suspended, excluding emergency treatments.
Our patients’ health and safety are always our priority and Affinity Dental Care adheres to the recommendations and encourages our patients to postpone non-urgent dental care to later dates. We will continue to monitor the situation and will inform you of the latest recommendations from our governing body and Ministry of Health.
Affinity Dental Care
According to an article in the New York Times, dentists are at the greatest risk of becoming sick from the patients they contact daily at work, due to the close physical distance and the aerosol produced during the dental procedures.
I have created a written policy and protocol to do the triage over the phone for dental emergencies based on the recommendations from my College, Public Health Ontario, Provincial Infectious Disease Advisory Committee’s, and other organizations on disease control.
To minimize the spreading of this COVID-19, assessment would be done first to all the patients on the phone or in person at the office to screen the patients who have a higher risk of having the Coronavirus disease. Once the assessment is done and the risk is deemed low, a certain sanitizing protocol would be initiated – hand washing with soak followed by a 70% alcohol-based sanitizer rub and rinsing the mouth with 1% hydrogen peroxide to minimize the virulence if present.
Personal protective equipment like eye protector, mask, cap, gown and gloves are essential in reducing the chances of spreading the virus during the emergency dental examination and treatments.
Minimization of the aerosol generation during the composite resin filling and tooth extraction procedures are to be performed like the use of dental rubber, unless the circumstances would not allow, during fillings and root canal (endodontic) treatments and the use of high-volume evacuation.
In the meanwhile, other non-essential treatments like teeth whitening, crowns and bridges, implants, cleaning, scaling, cosmetic dentistry, braces and orthodontic treatments are all suspended until further notice and guide lines are available.
We are all in it together to fight COVID-19. Each of us have a role to stop the spreading simply by washing our hands regularly for 20 seconds with soap, self-quarantine and notify the public health unit if you are at risk of having the disease, stay home and avoid social gatherings even at your own private home.
Stay strong and healthy together!
Call Dr. Wong at Affinity Dental Care in Burlington. If you are in the Burlington area and want to learn more about dental implants or any other dental service, call (289)-861-5111 to book a consultation appointment.