Alleviating Patient Fears About Seeking Treatment
Dental practices are open with high standards of health and safety, but some patients are nervous to attend.
Dentists across the nation have been allowed to reopen their doors since 8th June, although not all practices were ready to at this point. Since then, they have been restricted by health and safety regulations, such as the volume of patients they’re allowed to see. These strict measures have been implemented to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Unfortunately, a significant portion of the public are known to be anxious about attending dental appointments during the pandemic. A survey of 541 adults conducted by Dr Heff’s Remarkable Mints, found that twice as many people would delay a dental visit due to coronavirus concerns, whilst 1 in 3 plan to visit their dentist less frequently following lockdown. Understanding how dentists have adapted may help to ease patient fears about attending appointments throughout 2020 and into next year.
Aerosol-generating procedures, which involve a spray being produced inside the mouth, are a potential hazard during the pandemic, which is why extra precautions including fallow periods must be used following these treatments. After an AGP procedure, the room must be vacated for a minimum of 60 minutes, to allow any contaminated particles to settle before being deep-cleaned. A professional dentist in Essex explains that this period can be shortened to 20 minutes if you work in an environment with negative pressure.
As you might expect, dentists must be well-stocked with PPE equipment including medical grade face masks, face shields and disposable gloves and aprons. This allows them to carry out AGPs and even just routine check-ups whilst reducing the potential to pass contaminated bacteria backwards and forwards between patients and dental staff. However, the cost of PPE equipment is not cheap and the money to pay for vast quantities of kit needs to be found from somewhere. Some practices are choosing to pass on the PPE cost to patients at a rate of £40 per individual. Others are not charging anything but ask patients to bring their own masks to appointments.
Technology such as Zoom has been essential for many during lockdown to facilitate remote working as well as for socialising. So, there’s no surprise that dental practices are also leaning towards virtual solutions to assist with consultations. Naturally, there is no substitution for a face to face appointment if you require any actual treatment or hygiene work to be carried out. But remote consultations can be useful in providing advice and offering motivation for patients to keep up high dental hygiene standards. Adults are divided 50:50 in the above survey as to whether they think this type of technology would be beneficial to them. Typically, those aged over 65 are the category of people most likely to require both assistance with remote software solutions as well as being in need of dental treatment which can be problematic here.
Avoiding dental visits can cause significant problems with your oral health in the long run. Dental practices can help to alleviate concerns during the pandemic, by offering transparent communication about how they are operating and what control measures are in place to safeguard against Covid-19.