This is What Fashion Smile Clinic Did to Handle Emergency Cases During the Pandemic

Did you experience tooth pain during quarantine? Because I did. And it was excruciating, let me tell you! I was very hesitant to go to a dentist despite the pain, though, because I wasn’t sure about the procedures that they had in place or how things would work what with our mouths being some of the scariest parts of the body at this time.

Dentistry has always been one of the professions with the highest risk, which is why most of the protective measures that everyone is currently being asked to incorporate – masks, goggles, and face shields – had already been incorporated in the practice of dentistry. I interviewed Dr. Shideh Nikbin of Fashion Smile Clinic to find out more about what goes on in dental clinics now that a pandemic is ongoing.

When the ECQ was announced, Dr. Shideh shares that they had to shut down operations in both Fashion Smile branches. After all, COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose (Source). This places dentists at the highest risk. “We work directly on the mouth and most dental works produce high amounts of aerosol,” Dr. Shideh explains. Most risk occurs from splatter and droplet transmission to the face of the dentist and assistant.

Like me, many patients have been on waitlists and just getting by with prescriptions for pain medications or antibiotics to tide them over since dentists suspended all elective and non-essential services on March 16. When Fashion Smile noticed that their waitlist for emergency cases was growing, they took steps to create a negative pressure room in an effort to offer treatments for emergency cases.

A negative pressure room helps clean the air from the aerosols created during dentistry through powerful filtration in combination with dentists using full body suit (PPE). “We did our best to minimize our risk to be able to handle emergency cases during ECQ and MECQ,” Dr. Shideh assures us. “Now in GCQ, we can see and treat elective cases, as well, due to
the extensive sterilization we have enforced.”

Still, COVID-19 has greatly affected the dental industry and their operations. Fashion Smile limits the amount of patients that they have in a day since they can only accommodate one patient at a time. They also need extra time before and after each treatment for thorough sterilization and implementation of additional safety precautions.

Dr. Shideh shares that they tackle a lot of things now, like making sure they have a consistent supply since medical supplies aren’t as readily available now and the prices keep changing. “There is also a learning curve to adaptation and working with full body suits,” she adds. However, the main struggle is making sure patients come on time, and that there are no last minute cancellations.

Getting prepped for a patient is very different now, as well. The area has to be completely set up, for example, and the dentist and staff members have to be in PPE and prepped for the patient. So if a patient is late, everyone is on standby.

Fashion Smile currently asks patients with symptoms not to come in for now, but they treat everyone as PUMs (even though they offer rapid testing prior to extensive treatments), so PPE is very important as a protective measure for the dental staff and the patient.

Scheduling of patients is very different now, as well. They do not accept walk-ins anymore and they limit the amount of patients per day. They also telephone screen all patients for symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Dr. Shideh asks for patients with symptoms to avoid non-emergency dental care at all costs. If possible, dental care should be delayed until the patient has fully recovered.

“We also request that patients limit the amount of visitors accompanying them to the dental appointment to only those people who are necessary,” Dr. Shideh adds. All of the patients and their companions are also requested to wear face masks when entering the facility. They will undergo screening for fever and symptoms consistent with COVID-19, as well.

Have you been to the dentist since the pandemic started? What was your experience like? We’d love to hear about it!

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