Safety and infection control has always been a top priority for us in providing you with the highest quality oral health care. Perhaps you’ve seen our staff wear PPE for certain appointments in the past, but today per the guidance of the American Dental Association (ADA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) we now wear them for every appointment. It’s a change for all of us and does shift the feeling of the environment we create for your care. A big part of our oral health care practice is to make sure that as our patient you are comfortable, your needs are accommodated, and you feel connected to our compassionate team of professionals. That can feel harder now that our team is behind layers of equipment, but even if you can’t see our smiles, please know that we are so happy to answer questions and want to do everything we can to help you feel safe and comfortable in our office. Many of you have questions about our PPE, so we thought we’d give you a peek behind the mask and tell you about the components of our protective equipment and what it’s like for us to wear them. We spoke with Dr. Brunacini to learn more.
1. What are the elements of the PPEs you and your staff wear?
We have always practiced “universal precautions” in the clinical areas which include gloves, surgical masks, and safety glasses. Now, because of the nature of dentistry and how coronavirus is spread, we have taken additional precautions to manage what is called the “droplet precautions.” These additional precautions include surgical caps to cover our hair, N95 masks, face shields, shoe covers to protect our shoes, and washable full gowns. We are basically covered head-to-toe! There are even plexiglass barriers installed at the front desk for safety.
2. How does wearing the PPE affect your job?
Of course, wearing many layers of PPE can get pretty hot, so the A/C is running colder than before. Also, I find the need to change gowns for each appointment slows me down in checking patients throughout the day. The biggest challenge is maintaining the relationship aspect with our patients. Feeling buried in PPE can create a challenge for us to help our patients feel comfortable and trusting, especially when we are meeting someone for the first time. Patient comfort is one of our top priorities, so we are all doing our best to find ways to communicate our compassion.
3. I hear there is a shortage of PPEs in our country, is FDA concerned?
During the closure, it was very difficult to obtain PPE through the normal supply chains. There were some days that I simply searched for ways to obtain the PPE, and didn’t know when it would even arrive as a lot of PPE was backordered. It does seem that the PPE production backlog has improved slightly, which is allowing us to get the necessary PPE.
4. What do I need to do to help protect you and your staff during my appointment?
We are requiring all patients to arrive wearing masks until they are escorted into the dental room. We are also asking everyone to be patient and understanding of the screening questions that we must do prior to their appointments. It may be repetitive, but it is prudent to do in order to keep people safe. We are grateful to have our wonderful family of patients to care for, and really appreciate everyone doing their part to keep our office safe for everyone.
Thank you, Dr. Brunacini!
From our FDA family to you and your family: thank you for being our patient…we’re in this together! We’re happy we can continue to safely provide you with the highest quality oral health care. If you have any questions about the steps we take to keep you, and every patient, safe in our practice, please visit our COVID protocol page or give us a call at 207.781.5900. If you are overdue for your appointment, rest assured we will be in touch as soon as we catch up on our backlog; we appreciate your patience! We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment!