Returning to dental practice after lockdown

This policy has been created based on multiple updated sources from within the dental and medical professions and the government. It outlines modifications to our normal procedures and protocols that we intend to employ when the practice reopens after COVID-19 pandemic peak has subsided. It is not clear at this time if these procedures will remain temporary or whether they will become a permanent feature of the way dentistry is practised in order to ensure the safety of patients and staff in the future. The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is still being evaluated by scientists and policies and recommendations are changing as we speak. As new evidence emerges our policies are likely to change. We would like to thank our patients for their understanding during this difficult time and we appreciate your cooperation while we implement these new measures.Going forward we will continue to provide the highest standard of dental care to all our valued patients in the safest possible environment.

Provisional timetable

The practice will reopen for patients on the 8th of June 2020. For the first 2 weeks we will be focusing on emergencies that have developed over the lockdown period. We will be hoping to return to more normal levels of dental treatments into July 2020.

Before your appointment

If you feel that you are at risk of having been infected with COVID-19, even if you are asymptomatic, we will respectfully request you delay booking any appointments for at least one month. Please give the practice as much notice as you can if you feel you need to cancel an upcoming appointment because you have been potentially exposed to COVID-19.If you are a patient in a high-risk group of developing severe symptoms due to COVID-19 we recommend you delay all non-essential dental treatment for as long as possible. If you are in a high- risk group and require treatment we will schedule your appointment for the beginning of the day. To find out if you are in a high-risk group please visit the NHS website.

We advise that you keep contact with other members of the public as limited as possible when travelling to the practice. We can offer socially distanced waiting to a minimum number of patients within the practice and may ask you to wait in your car prior to your appointment. Only one adult can attend an appointment with a child, please do not bring additional family members unless they are happy to wait outside the practice.We would ask patients to try to minimise the use of toilets to hand washing only. If you do use the toilets, please ensure you leave them as you would expect to find them and wash your hands thoroughly. The toilest will be regularly disinfected between patients.Appointments will be staggered to minimise patient interaction as they arrive and leave the practice.

Arrival at the practice

When you attend the practice, we will take your temperature with a “no-touch” thermometer. If your temperature is above 37.8°C, you will be unable to enter the practice and will be advised to contact your doctor for further advice.

During your appointment

If you are well, you will be escorted directly to the surgery. And you may be asked to carry out the following before or during your appointment

  • Use of hand sanitiser in the reception area or thoroughly wash your hands for 30 seconds with the hand wash provided in the practice toilet
  • We may ask you to use a hydrogen peroxide mouthwash before some dental treatments are provided
  • Rubber dam and/or other barrier mechanisms may be used for more procedures than previously

After your appointment

The Limes Dental Practice will be operating a contactless payment system as much as we can. All payment terminals will be regularly decontaminated throughout the day. Please do not think us rude if we invite you to leave directly after payment. Whilst we normally love to chat, in the interest of safety, we must ask you to vacate the premises to promptly.

New measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission

We have always operated the highest levels of cross infection protocols at the Limes Dental Practice and these will be continued to be carried out.Please be assured that the dental practice is an exceptionally clean environment when compared to public areas and that there is still no evidence of COVID-19 transmission occurring within dental practices. Having consulted the current and updated guidance we have introduced additional measures outlined in this policy which we believe will reduce the risk to a minimum level within the practice. All staff have been trained regarding the updated protocols.The practice will not be able to offer the same reading material as previously. There will be no magazines available in reception. All clinical and common areas including door handles and surfaces will be regularly disinfectant throughout the day. The practice will be using a buffer period between patients to allow time for the additional decontamination procedures.We are particularly mindful of dental treatments that cause an aerosol. Aerosol generation procedures may cause the COVID-19 virus to become suspended in the air. We wish to keep these procedures to a minimum.If we feel it is clinically justifiable to carry out an AGP, the current dental literature advises

  • the use of normal high-volume suction which reduces the aerosol by 90%.
  • the use of dental Rubber dam reduces bioaerosols by a further 30 to 90%.
  • The use of regular surgical masks which filter 60% of the remaining airborne particles
  • FFP2 and FFP3 masks which filter 95 and 98% of the remaining airborne particles retrospectively in both directions (patient to clinician and clinician to patient)

We will also be optimising air movement in the surgery and practice using open windows and air conditioning fans.Having weighed up all of the current guidance and evidence we feel that normal dental procedures can be carried out with minimum risk of transmission using a combination of patient screening, high volume suction, pre-operative mouthwash, rubber dam, and FFP2 or FFP3 masks, and surgical gowns.All Dental staff will be wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment in line with current guidance. We apologise for the reduction in social interaction that this imposes. Please rest assured that the same friendly staff are hiding underneath the masks and gowns.We look forward to seeing you again at the practice and we value your patience as we work through this transitional period together to continue to deliver the highest standards of care to our valued patients.