Patient Safety & Infection Control Protocols
While we remain committed to complying with local and state infection control guidelines from the Ohio Dental Association (ODA), as well as those of the CDC and the American Dental Association (ADA), we are also electively instituting some other temporary procedures for the safety of our patients and staff.
Please assist us by kindly calling to reschedule your appointment if you:
- Are currently experiencing flu-like symptoms (vomiting, nausea, fever, sore throat, general muscle aches, fatigue)
- Have or have had a cough, sore throat, or shortness of breath within the past 14 days
While we have always practiced maximal infection control according to ADA, CDC, OSHA, and Ohio State Dental Board standards, the following are specific mitigation factors unique to our office for reducing the risks of cross-contamination from which our patients benefit:
- Chairside separate air vacuum systems will be used with HEPA filters and UV to immediately evacuate aerosols. (NEW)
- Isolite® intraoral evacuation systems will be used during as many procedures, including dental hygiene appointments, as possible.
- Rubber dam will be utilized whenever appropriate.
- Air purification units throughout the office, including central HEPA and UV light air purification systems. (NEW)
- Individual treatment rooms.
In order to decrease the risk of spread, rest assured that our staff will be cleaning touched surfaces regularly, providing hand sanitizer, and wearing protective equipment according to usual standards of practice. All autoclavable instrumentation is sterilized by autoclave after each use, and disposable products are used wherever reasonably possible. We also use in-duct ultraviolet lamps and high-quality air filters to cleanse the air in our heating/cooling system to decrease airborne contaminants.
For everyone’s safety and protection and in compliance with government mandates for as long as they are in place, we are adhering strictly to social distancing to the extent that we are able. Some new policies and procedures that you will notice at your next appointment are the following:
- Upon arrival, please call or text 330.364.2011 to let us know that you are here and remain in your vehicle. We will let you know when we are ready for you to minimize your time in the reception area.
- Masks or cloth face coverings are required for anyone entering the building and while in the building except during active dental treatment. To preserve the necessary PPE, please wear your own.
- Pens used for completing any paperwork are yours to keep. (They have always been complimentary, except now we are asking you to keep them.)
- A pre-screening COVID-19 interview is required by phone prior to your visit, and then it will be repeated in-person after you arrive at the office. Anyone with symptoms will be asked to reschedule after they have recovered.
- Temperatures of any patient and companion are taken at the designated triage station.
- Please clean your hands upon entering and exiting our office with the provided hand sanitizer or by washing them thoroughly in the restroom.
- Regretfully, our reception area will no longer have magazines or children’s toys due to the difficulty with proper sanitization. Complimentary coffee and tea will still be available upon request while the coffee station is closed, and bottled water is always available.
- Appointments will be specifically managed to allow for social distancing between patients, which likely will require less flexibility with scheduling and a few daily appointments.
- Only patients with scheduled appointments may be present in the building, except for a necessary caregiver or guardian to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Our new scheduling options are designed to address individual oral healthcare needs and maintain a safe and sterile environment.
To assist us with providing appropriate care for all of our patients, please make every effort to keep scheduled appointments and attempt to be flexible and patient with us as we work to adjust the schedule to accommodate best practices for timely care and social distancing.
We also know that during these unprecedented times obstacles like additional time off from work and financial concerns can be barriers to ideal care.
Therefore, we have temporarily expanded our patient finance options to minimize the delay of necessary dental care while continuing to provide the best level of dentistry possible. This mandatory shutdown of “elective” care has shown many of our patients that procrastinating recommended dental care “until it hurts” can lead to pain, infection, and significant discomfort in the event that dental care is not immediately available. It is our sincerest wish that no one has to suffer or to delay care due to financial hardship. Please discuss any financial concerns with us so that we may assist if we are able.
Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we work together to get through this challenging time. We will keep you up to date as to any changes that may occur in the future.
How Do I Avoid COVID-19?
As a vaccine is not available at this time for COVID-19 (also known as SARS-CoV-2), avoiding being exposed to the virus is the only defense currently available.
How does the virus spread?
Transmission of this virus usually happens person-to-person. This means it is spread through respiratory droplets from coughing, talking, or sneezing (typically within 6 feet of other people). These respiratory droplets can enter through the mouth, nose, or eyes, and can be directly inhaled into the lungs.
It is important to remember that a person may still be contagious while being without any of the symptoms, especially if they are what are called “pre-symptomatic” patients.
COVID-19 may also be caught from touching surfaces where respiratory have landed and then touching your face afterward.
How can I protect myself?
The recommended ways to keep yourself from being exposed to COVID-19 are:
- Be sure to maintain a distance of 6′ from other people while in public spaces.
- Wash your hands frequently, and be sure you are doing it the correct way for at least 20 seconds.
- If you do not have access to soap, use hand sanitizer consisting of a minimum of 60% alcohol and rub your hands together until they feel dry.
- Try to avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose until you have washed your hands first.
- Always wear a mask or cloth covering when 6’ of social distancing cannot be maintained around others outside of your household.
- Make sure to cover your mouth whenever you cough or sneeze, preferably with your elbow or upper arm. (You should wash your hands afterward, as well.)
- Frequently disinfect commonly touched surfaces like door handles and countertops.
- Close toilet lids prior to flushing.
How can someone tell if they have COVID-19?
Symptoms of COVID-19 may be mild or severe. If you think you could have symptoms, check your temperature to see if you have a fever above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Typical symptoms you should be aware of are as follows:
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle aches or body aches
- Sore throat
- Loss of your sense of smell or taste
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Runny nose/congestion
What people are at the most risk?
Though COVID-19 infection may result in serious complications for anyone, the ones who are most vulnerable are people over sixty-five years old as well as those who have preexisting conditions, such as:
- Individuals who are immunocompromised
- Those with a serious heart condition
- People who have asthma or chronic lung disease
- Those with disease of the liver or kidney disease
- People who are severely overweight
I think I may have caught the virus. What should I do?
During the current pandemic, there are many who are making an effort to keep from leaving the house whenever possible. This often includes avoiding appointments they may consider necessary. You may be wondering, is it wise to put off visits to the dentist because of COVID-19?
A recently published paper in the British Dental Journal suggests otherwise.
Dentists have known for a long while now about the links between the health of the mouth and the health of the rest of the body. The paper by Victoria Sampson takes a look are how bacteria in the mouth may be contributors to many of the COVID-19 virus’ more serious complications.
What serious complications are related to COVID-19?
Some of the most typical serious complications of COVID-19 are:
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
- Septic shock
- Blood clots
The complications of the virus are actually more likely to result in death than the COVID-19 virus itself. Though COVID-19 is a virus, these complications are actually the result of bacterial infection. Studies into COVID-19 cases are showing that 80% of ICU patients hospitalized for COVID-19 have elevated levels of dangerous bacteria, necessitating treatment with antibiotics. This suggests that bacteria are an important factor when it comes to the severity of COVID-19 infections.
How is the mouth related to these complications?
The bacteria in the mouth have a high chance of making their way into the respiratory tract. The same varieties of bacteria in periodontitis can worsen or cause conditions such as sepsis and pneumonia.
This connection is where oral health and proper oral hygiene come in. The transfer of harmful bacteria between the mouth and lungs can be reduced by taking proper care of your mouth. Some studies have discovered that good oral health may reduce the possibility of ventilator-associated pneumonia in ICU patients and help stop bacterial superinfection.
Don’t postpone going to the dentist!
While it may be scary to visit the dentist during the COVID-19 pandemic, right now is the best time to ensure you have the best oral health possible. Having a healthy mouth can lessen your chances of complications from COVID-19, and is good for your overall health.
If you have a dental issue you want to have checked out or are overdue for a checkup, get in touch with our practice now to schedule your next visit with Dr. Huff.
The link between oral health and the overall health of the body should not be disregarded. Researchers have uncovered major connections between oral conditions and heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Respiratory problems can be influenced by the bacteria found in the mouth, as well.
In Germany, a three-month study was undertaken that examined patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19. The study discovered that patients with gum disease (periodontitis) had a significantly higher risk of dying from respiratory failure.
This respiratory condition is likely caused by interleukin (IL-6), a harmful protein produced by periodontitis. IL-6 spreads from the mouth to the lungs where it causes respiratory problems.
According to founder of the UCLA Dental Research Journal, Shervin Molayem, DDS, “Gum disease has been linked to other breathing ailments, including pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, so we weren’t surprised to find a link to respiratory problems with COVID-19.”
He continued with, “what shocked us was the discovery of the protein’s devastating, life-threatening impact on patients once they’re hospitalized. One tiny, inflammatory protein robbed them of their ability to breathe.”
The California Dental Association has released The Mouth-COVID Connection in which you can learn more about these findings.
In April of 2021, a study published in the European Federation of Periodontology’s Journal of Clinical Periodontology unveiled more findings on the connection between gum disease and COVID-19.
The team performing the study in Qatar looked at 568 patients who had been diagnosed with COVID-19 between February and July of 2020. Of the patients in the study, 40 had suffered complications, which consisted of being put in intensive care, placed on a ventilator, or dying. The study looked at a number of factors for their connection with COVID-19, including heart disease, asthma, diabetes, body mass index, blood pressure, smoking, and others.
The study found that COVID-19 patients who were suffering from periodontal disease were nearly nine (8.81) times more likely to die than those without.
COVID patients with gum disease were 4.5 times more likely to need a ventilator and were 3.5 times more likely to be admitted to intensive care.
Those with periodontal disease were more likely to develop COVID-19 complications (around 12.8%) than those without (about 2.3%).
One of the study’s co-authors, Professor Lior Shapira of the Hebrew University, said, “The results of the study suggest that the inflammation in the oral cavity may open the door to the coronavirus becoming more violent. Oral care should be part of the health recommendations to reduce the risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes.”
Having good oral health is more important than ever. Get in touch with us if you notice any of the signs of gum disease, and be sure you have your dental prophylaxis (teeth cleaning) and exam scheduled.