This post aims to inform you on the measures we are taking to ensure your continued access to dental services during this emerging and constantly changing situation that has arisen with coronavirus (COVID-19). As things change, we will be be providing updates on our website and Facebook pages.
Availability of Services
At the time of writing, we are still offering a full suite of dental services. Since February, we have experienced delays in the supply of masks for the practice, but we continue to be able to source stock and are able to abide by the Infection Control Guidelines established by the Dental Board of Australia.
With dental practices Australia-wide using some 9.5 million masks per month on routine services, we are grateful for the actions of the Australian Dental Association to secure emergency stocks from the National Medical Stockpile should we need it.
We are however taking actions to conserve our mask stocks. For example, we may ask you to complete several procedures in one longer appointment rather than spacing them out over several times should it be appropriate to do so.
We also strongly encourage patients with dental treatment needs to seek care now. Should the Government mandate quarantine measures as the COVID-19 epidemic advances, there will be significant disruption to our ability to deliver services.
Environmental Hygiene Measures and Hand Washing
Promoting and practising respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette is essential in community-based prevention of virus transmission. We ask that you follow the advice provided by the Department of Health when visiting our practice (and elsewhere of course).
- When coughing or sneezing, use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth
- Dispose of the tissue afterwards
- If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow.
- After coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose, wash your hands with soap and water
- Use alcohol-based hand cleansers if you do not have access to soap and water
We also have alcohol-based hand cleansers on our reception counter, and ask that you take the time to use it on arrival to your appointment.
For many of our long standing patients, you will know that we will wipe over the clinical areas between patients (even members of the same family). Over the coming weeks will be even more diligent and increase our already high standards of surface hygiene, with increased cleaning in the public areas of a our practice, such as reception and the amenities.
Managing Suspected Cases of COVID-19
We have always maintained the highest level of infection control, however COVID-19 does provide us with some unique challenges. Available evidence suggests that it is highly infective, and is transmitted through aerosol formation. Most dental procedures create significant aerosols, and this risk to our staff is higher than that of other infective diseases.
We are following the advice provided by the Australian and Queensland Departments of Health. It is important that we identify returned travellers (both patients and staff) at risk of COVID-19, namely those who have had close or casual contact 14 days before illness onset with a confirmed case of COVID-19 OR those who have travelled to or transited, in the 14 days before the onset of illness, countries considered to pose a high risk of transmission in the last 14 days.
Do not be surprised if we ask you these questions when you book your appointment, or when you present to reception. Though the risk is still assessed as currently low in Australia, we each must play our part to keep it that way.
Our practice has been advised to delay elective treatment of any patient who is actively infected, suspected of infection, has been in contact with an infected person or who is serving a self-isolation period. We apologise for not being able to provide treatment in these circumstances.
If you are confirmed to be infected you will likely be admitted to hospital. Should you require emergency dental treatment, you will be triaged and if necessary, treated by the hospital dentist or maxillofacial surgeon. The provision of dental treatments necessitates the need for airborne transmission-based precautions, which cannot be safely provided in general dental practice such as ours due to the need for a negative pressure room.
Should you be suspected of infection or currently serving self-isolation and contact us requesting emergency dental treatment, we have been recommended that you be told to contact either the Australian Government Department of Health Coronavirus health information line on 1800 020 080.