VID-19 has infected more than 80,000 people worldwide with a rapidly climbing death toll of around 2,500 people, with 34 countries and regions affected, efforts by the healthcare sector and their practices are absolutely vital for our well-being. In Singapore, people are largely eschewing public areas, and prefer to stay at home whilst the tide of infections subside. We may ask ourselves if this is really necessary. Is it safe for me to go and visit the dentist?
At Vivid Dental Surgeons, the health and well-being of patients and dental care providers is our utmost priority. We are actively monitoring the COVID-19 situation and we want to assure you that we have developed a coordinated strategy to address the issue. We are focusing on ensuring patients continue receiving their oral and dental treatment amidst this COVID-19 period.
We want to reassure you that at Vivid Dental Surgeons we have followed stringent protocols imposed by the Ministry of Health Singapore such as cleaning and disinfection strategies during this flu season. Below we will share some information and recommendations to help ensure you and others around you to stay healthy.
Frequently asked questions by patients
What is coronavirus?
Coronaviruses is a large family of viruses that cause respiratory illness in people and some animals. Previous coronavirus outbreaks include the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). COVID-19 the current pandemic that we are facing is a disease caused by the novel coronavirus called “SARS-CoV-2”.
Although the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified COVID-19 as a novel coronavirus, it seems to spread like other respiratory viruses: when people who are infected cough or sneeze the virus is transmitted through large droplets in the air.
What are signs and symptoms of coronavirus?
Symptoms of COVID-19 are just like a normal flu would have, including fever, cough, sore throat, and shortness of breath in severe patients.
People at high risk for COVID-19 infection include:
- Elderly aged 60 and above
- People with underlying health conditions (heart disease, lung disease, diabetes)
- People with weakened immune system (immunosuppressed)
I have scheduled an appointment at Vivid Dental Surgeons. What should I do?
If you have scheduled a routine appointment with us or dental clinic, it will still be ongoing with extra-precautionary measures imposed as directed by the Ministry of Health of Singapore. Patients must undergo temperature screening, practice social distancing, keep a good standard of hygiene (sanitizing hands before entering the treatment room), wear a mask, and declare that they have not travelled to certain countries marked by the MOH. We apologize for any inconvenience caused for complying with the terms implemented above.
Should I avoid going to the dentist until COVID-19 is over?
We are aware that it is scary to go for a dental procedure during this troubling time, however, the Singapore government has stated that the chances of picking up COVID-19 from the dentist or even crowded places like the emergency department at the hospital is low. Their advice which we would like to share is to stick with you schedule, go for the appointment and return home quickly after. With proper infection control measures, it is unlikely to catch COVID-19 from the clothes or protective equipment (PPE) of health practitioners including in the dental setting.
Infection control in Dental Settings
Dental patients who cough, sneeze, or receive dental treatment including the use of high-speed handpiece or ultrasonic instruments may secrete saliva, blood to their surroundings. Dental apparatus could be contaminated with various pathogenic microorganisms after use or become exposed to a contaminated clinic environment. Thereafter, infections can occur through the puncture of sharp instruments or direct contact between mucous membranes and contaminated hands.
Due to the unique characteristics of dental procedures where a large number of droplets and aerosols could be generated, the standard protective measures in daily clinical work may not be as effective to prevent the spread of COVID-19 especially if the patient is unaware they are infected during the incubation period.
Thus, at Vivid Dental Surgeons we have implemented stricter measures to reduce the risk of transmitting microorganism to patients. This reinforces the good hand hygiene practices and sanitization of all surfaces within the dental clinic. The use of personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, gloves, gowns, goggles or face shields will be used for all procedures.
Some things that you should remember
It may sound like a simple task, like washing your hands, but a simple thing like this may deter the coronavirus from spreading. Dentists have set a hygiene routine which usually starts with washing their hands in between patients. You will see this when entering the treatment room in dental clinics. We would also like to remind you to wash your hands (or disinfect with alcohol spray), before entering and after leaving the treatment room. This is to ensure your own safety and infection control is maintained.
Furthermore, if you have made a schedule but are feeling unwell (e.g. have fever or sore throat), please inform our dental staff for more advice and reschedule the appointment. It is best to stay home if you are feeling unwell.
The Importance of Patient’s Oral Hygiene
Oral hygiene is always important for patients regardless of the current alarming COVID-19 situation. However, during this flu season we encourage patients to use antimicrobial mouthwash to reduce the number of microbes in the oral cavity. Remember to brush your teeth at least 2 times a day and floss everyday to prevent bacterial growth. If possible drink plenty of water and cut down on sugary foods and drinks.5 tips on maintains good oral health.
- Keep your toothbrush dry and clean (it is a sensitive medium for transmitting viruses)
- Brush your retainers or dentures before placing them in your mouth (if you have any)
- Be careful when flossing: floss through the area side-to-side instead of up through the tooth contact
- Use non-alcoholic mouthwash and less bactericidal toothpaste as highly anti-bacterial and alcoholic agents can disrupt the health of the oral microbiome
- Avoid eating hard foods that can crack your teeth or damage fillings (this includes popcorn kernels, peanut brittle, and sticky candy)
It is important to keep good oral hygiene standards amidst the COVID-19 period. Let’s do our part in keeping the community and ourselves safe and healthy. At Vivid Dental Surgeons we practice good infection control and hope to educate our patients on oral hygiene matters. Please feel free to look at other related articles on our blog. Dr. Ryan and the Vivid Dental Team wish you a pleasant and virus-free day ahead!