Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our office’s normal flow has been severely disrupted causing a delay in treatment. There has been a lack of guidance from our professional organizations with regards on how and when to treat orthodontic patients. Orthodontists are dentists with specialized training. Although we are dentists, our practices and procedures are very different than any other dental specialty. The most important difference, which is very applicable with COVID-19, is that we rarely use handpieces (dental drills) because of the type of work we do. We do use these devices when removing braces or re-positioning orthodontic brackets. Dental handpieces create aerosols which can propagate the spread of the virus. In California, the California Dental Association and the California Association of Orthodontists (CAO) guide our profession. Due to a lack of information, very little direction was coming from these governing bodies. Last week, the CAO released specific guidelines on procedures and protocols directing us how to treat orthodontic patients.
We are asking all our patients to follow some simple rules when working with our office. Many of these you are already doing.
Before you come to the office, we ask that you make sure that you have not had any type of flu like symptoms or have been exposed to anyone infected with the COVID-19 virus. We will be checking temperatures prior to treating all patients. We ask that you are on time to your appointments as we are not allowing more than 4 persons (unless accompanying a minor) into our waiting room. If you are late, you may need to be re-scheduled at a later time. If you are earlier, please wait outside of the office until the appointed time. When entering the office, you are required to wear a mask. Check in with the front staff and be seated. There will 6-foot distancing in the waiting room. When the assistant calls you back, we will take the patients temperature. If it is elevated, we will be asking you to re-schedule at a later date. From our side, we will also be taking our entire team’s temperatures prior to each workday. On Monday through Thursday, we will be performing non aerosolizing procedures. Which means, if you have loose braces or are having your appliances removed, we will be doing those appointments on a different day or after hours when no one is in the office. After your appointment, we ask you not to congregate at the front desk. Most issues such as scheduling, insurance inquiries and financial issues can be addressed over the phone.
It is important to note that dental offices have followed specific sterilization and cleaning procedures long before the COVID-19 outbreak. These procedures ensure the safety of our patients, the public and our team. All instruments are sterilized and remain in their sterile pouches until ready to use. Our sterilizers are spore tested weekly for efficacy per the manufacture and State of California requirements. Our disinfectants are all capable of destroying virus’ and bacteria.
It is our hope that with some modification that your orthodontic treatment will be interrupted as little as possible. If you have any questions, please feel free to direct them to Dr. Hedrick or his team. We are grateful that you have chosen our office for your orthodontic care and that together we can overcome these trying times.
All patients should complete the Supplemental Health Questionnaire before every appointment. If you don't have access to a printer, we'll have forms available to fill out on site.
Additionally, we request all patients complete and submit the Informed Consent Form prior to the first appointment following our re-opening date. This form only needs to be completed once.
Please contact our office if you have any questions regarding these forms.