What to expect at my next visit to the Whickham Dental Practice?
In general, things will look a little different. There will be plenty of masks (I guess you’re getting used to that!) but underneath, the same old friendly faces. At Whickham Dental Practice, we have always gone out of our way to try and create a relaxing atmosphere – for now things will have to be a little more rigid. The practice may seem quieter than normal, as we are staggering appointments and working in shifts.
You will be contacted before your appointment with some specific advice.
The aim is to reduce your time and the number of contacts in the practice to facilitate social distancing
Prior to your appointment
- clean between your teeth (floss or tepe interdentals) on the day of your appointment. (this is not necessary for children)
- brush your teeth immediately prior to setting off for your appointment (and avoid eating from then on unless medically required to do so e.g. diabetics). Our normal toothbrushing stations will be out of bounds.
- visit the toilet before you set off – again our facilities will have restricted access.
- do not arrive too early for your appointment – our waiting rooms will have a reduced number chairs
- attend just by yourself wherever possible (exceptions being minors and patients in need of support)
- if you can, try not to bring in coats or bags. However having your own pen might be useful
- remember to bring any documents with you that we have advised
At the practice
- the door may well be closed. There will be a notice on the door instructing you to ring on the doorbell. Please wait until indicated to enter by the receptionist
- on entering, please use the hand wash station with hand sanitiser
- expect to see a screen up at reception, lots of 2 metre distancing signs and staff regularly washing things down
- expect to have your COVID-19 status reconfirmed
- magazines, leaflets and toys have been removed
- some members of staff will be wearing masks, so sadly this will limit conversation for now- please forgive us for that.
- similarly, as I’m sure you’ll understand, there will be no hand shaking
- please avoid touching anything that you do not need to touch
- depending on the procedure, the dentist or hygienist may be wearing more PPE (personal protective equipment) than normal.
- the treatment rooms may look very bare- we have removed things like pictures and certificates to aid effective cleaning
- patients seeing a dentist or hygienist in one of the upstairs surgeries will be asked to follow the signs to exit the practice via the back door. This is to allow a single flow direction of patients.
- wherever possible, things like follow up appointments, payments, estimates and treatment plans will be done remotely by phone or email. We will not be handling cash.
There will NOT be
- pre treatment mouthwashes or temperature checks as were doing earlier this year, as there has been no evidence to prove their effectiveness
- any last minute cancellation charges should you need to cancel due to illness
Should you come to the dentist at the moment?
The dental practice will be one of the safest environments outside of your own home.
We have recently been issued with extremely detailed guidance from an expert panel consisting of a diverse range of specialisms.
We are confident we can implement this precisely (although some procedures may be postponed at first whilst acquiring the necessary PPE).
The dental profession is expert at dealing with cross-infection issues – we deal with it every minute of every day. We have just had to adapt further to deal with COVID-19.
Whilst we would love to see you as soon as possible, consider whether it is appropriate for you: there is still a national health effort to avoid social interaction especially for those at greater risk.
The at risk groups are detailed below.
You need to balance this with your dental needs and the risks of delaying preventive advice or treatment. We can help guide you if necessary.
When we contact you, there is no pressure if you wish to postpone your appointment.
Patients at risk from Coronavirus
There are two groups of people who are at risk:
1. Clinically extremely vulnerable
- Solid organ transplant recipients.
- People with specific cancers:
- People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
- People with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
- People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow who are at any stage of treatment
- People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
- People having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system
- People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs.
- People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary (COPD).
- People with rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections.
- People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to increase risk of infection significantly.
- Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.
2. Clinically vulnerable
Clinically vulnerable people are those who are:
- Aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
- Under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (that is, anyone instructed to get a flu jab each year on medical grounds):
- Chronic (long-term) mild to moderate respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
- Chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- Chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or cerebral palsy
- A weakened immune system as the result of certain conditions, treatments like chemotherapy, or medicines such as steroid tablets
- Being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
- Pregnant women.
We would advise that anybody in any of the above vulnerable groups who is coming to the practice to come wearing a mask.