PANDEMIC DENTIST

So on Wednesday, I did actually go to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned. I normally get my teeth cleaned on a Saturday. It’s usually very busy, with many people in the waiting room. The schedules are all off, so even if I show up on time, I still wind up having to wait up to 15 minutes before I’m actually brought to a chair.

Maybe it was because it was a Wednesday afternoon or perhaps we’re in a pandemic now but when I arrived on time, there was no one else in the waiting area. I was seen immediately. I have to mention that I was made to sign a waiver when I arrived. It basically stated that I recognized that it was a risk coming to get dental care and that I attest that I was not sick, did not have any symptoms, and had not been around people that had tested positive. So even the clinic knew that getting dental care would put yourself at some risk and they wanted you to realize and acknowledge it. I signed it but I will admit I hesitated ever so slightly before doing so.

The dental assistant that did most of my cleaning looked pretty much the same as before in terms of PPE, except that she had a full face shield on, which was new. As far as the actual cleaning went, it went smoothly and she did a great job. I have to say, this particular dental assistant made me feel comfortable during the whole procedure. She did my cleaning the last time as well.

Of course, I did not forget for one moment that my cleaning was done while we are living in exceptional circumstances. This particular clinic does not have individual treatment rooms. Instead, it’s more like an open office environment, where large and tall shelves that hold all the equipment separate the treatment areas. You can hear other patients talking to their own dental assistants and dentists. More importantly, everyone is breathing in and out the same air. Air can freely mix from one treatment area to another.

The entire time I had my mouth open, I was wondering, how many aerosolized particles from other people’s mouths are getting into my own mouth and nose?

After the cleaning was done and while I still sitting in the chair, they pushed me to book my next cleaning. In my case, they wanted me to come in four months from now instead of the regular six. This is because I probably should get more frequent cleaning because of some potential gum problems. I told them I’d phone them later to tell them what day I would be free but they wouldn’t accept that. They made to choose a day right then and there. I said yes to some random day in December but the latest WHO guidance is very much still in my mind. What I just went in for is something they discourage given what is going on.

There is some speculation with the latest modeling that this fall is could be a very bad for public health and if that’s the case, I wouldn’t hesitate to cancel my appointment if things take a turn for the worse. In this province, with the way that young people are screwing things up for the rest of us, it’s looking pretty grim.

I have subsequently talked to someone else about dental visits during the pandemic and they said their clinic had individual treatments rooms with actual walls and each room had a large, medical grade air filter. That sounds way more safe that my clinic. Maybe the key is to switch to that clinic?

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