In Focus: Reopening Your Dental Practice in the COVID-19 Era

Dental practices forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic are gradually reopening. While dentists and oral surgeons have been handling emergency cases, dental practices have compelling reasons to open, from both an economic and general healthcare perspective.

Dentists need to resume providing preventive care and treatment to remain viable while patients run the risk of dental problems by continuing to put off care due to fears of contracting COVID-19. How can dental practice reopen in the face of unprecedented health risks and ensure the safety of their staff and their patients?

Given the potential liabilities dentists face due to the potential spread of COVID-19 in their offices, it is crucial to have informed representation from an attorney who provides legal services to dental professionals. In the meantime, here are some tips dental practices should consider when ripening in the COVID-19 era.

The New Normal in Dental Medicine

Dental professionals have always been exposed to infectious diseases and practices have survived past health scares (e.g HIV, SARS). Although the novel coronavirus is an unprecedented challenge, dental offices should follow CDC and OSHA guidelines for ensuring workplace safety by:

  • Maintaining high standards of infection control
  • Performing frequent sanitization
  • Ensuring access to personal protective equipment

While compliance with safety rules and regulations has always been a priority in dentistry, the pandemic makes additional preventative measures crucial. Dental practices must proceed with caution and make changes to protect staff and patients. These include:

  • In-Office appointments — Patients should be made aware of any changes prior to their next visit. Patient temperatures should be checked upon arrival and all patients entering the office must wear a face mask. Adult patients should come alone unless they require physical assistance and only one adult should accompany a child.
  • Eliminate waiting rooms — To accommodate social distancing, chairs should be removed from waiting rooms. Also, patients coming for an appointment should be advised to call from their car upon arriving. When the dentist is ready to see them, staff members can notify patients by call or text.
  • Use digital documents — Patients should complete intake forms online prior to their visit and any paperwork regarding insurance, fees, and contracts should be converted to digital documents. Patients can be billed after appointments by mail or email.
  • Practice teledentistry — As we wrote in last month’s blog post, teledentistry provides dentists with an effective means of communicating with and screening patients to determine treatment options.

While the foregoing measures can help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in dental offices, it is important to work closely with staff and patients to address their health and safety concerns. By collectively adhering to these new rules, however, dentists and their patients can help to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.