Ann Le There’s no doubt that it is a scary time in the world right now. While we are all trying to do our best to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and even the flu, it doesn’t mean that you have to put off certain dental procedures. Here are a few things you need to know about Bunker Hill Dentistry’s sanitization practices and how our patients are affected during this trying period. What Sanitation Guidelines Does Bunker Hill Dentistry Utilize? Proper sanitation isn’t anything new for our dental practice. We consistently take specific measures to help prevent the spread of germs and bacteria. In fact, you could easily say that we already treat our practice like everyone has the flu—we take cleanliness and sanitation that seriously. The protocols we follow are designed with the mindset that we will inevitably see patients who have a hidden illness anyway. It would almost be impossible to take our sanitization practices any further than we already do on a daily basis. Our general sanitization process includes the following examples: All water we use within our practice, including during sanitizing equipment, is distilled water. We do not use water from the tap. After every patient, we use healthcare/industrial grade wipes. This is much more effective than traditional wipes that you would buy at the grocery store. We utilize a sterilization unit to ensure all our equipment and tools are properly disinfected. If you’ve walked down the hallway in our office, you’ve probably even seen it! Our office policy is to always keep a neat and tidy environment for the safety of both our patients and staff. During a procedure, all equipment is kept in a stainless-steel cassette to help protect the instruments and improve safety. After a patient is seen at our office, we take the following precautions in a specific order to help minimize any potential issues: We use sanitizing wipes on all areas of chairs, equipment, etc. to help kill bacteria in the room. Tools and other related items are brought to the custom-built sterilization area where they are sterilized in hands-free machines for fifteen minutes, wiped down, and then sterilized again for another fifteen minutes. Then items are put into a fan dryer to help reduce moisture and reduce bacteria thanks to high heat. After the dryer units, items are placed in a Midmark MD11 autoclave where they are heated to around 400 to 800 degrees for forty-five minutes or longer. This kills any remaining bacteria or viruses. Our custom-built sterilization area – all instruments are carefully scrubbed, ultrasonically cleaned, fan dried, and sterilized in a Midmark MD11 autoclave. What About Common Areas of the Dental Office? Like most businesses, we are also doing everything we can to ensure our common areas and waiting room are disinfected as often as possible. We use professional-grade cleansers and wipes on all chairs and tables in the waiting areas and within our restrooms. It is important to remember that, while our patients spend an extended period of time in our office during an appointment, our staff is here for eight to ten hours per day. We are just as concerned about our own safety as we are yours and take as many steps as possible to encourage cleanliness. What Should I Do If I Have a Dental Issue and I Believe I’ve Been Exposed to a Virus? We ask that our patients follow the same hygiene guidelines that the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have released to the general public. A few good tips to follow include: Wash hands frequently with soap or use hand sanitizer; Maintain social distancing of a minimum of three feet; Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; If you have a fever or cough, seek medical treatment as soon as possible. How to handwash? Use and for at least 40-60 seconds#SafeHands #coronavirus #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/HdPFtTW32j — World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 14, 2020 We also ask that if you have a fever or have recently been diagnosed with an illness, please get in touch with us to reschedule your appointment. This is especially true if you are not in pain and are just engaging in preventative dental care. Furthermore, if you are ill and experiencing mouth pain, please call us. There’s a good chance that we can offer tips to help ease the discomfort until you’re well and the chance of germ transmission has subsided. We Are Here to Protect Both Our Patients and Our Staff! We are doing all we can to help keep you safe during flu season and the coronavirus pandemic. We regularly sanitize all we can on a normal day, which has made it easy to transition to an era where everyone is concerned about cleanliness. If you have recently been ill or exposed to someone who shows symptoms, please give us a call immediately to reschedule your appointment. At Bunker Hill Dentistry, we remain committed to patient and employee safety. By always maintaining a clean and sanitized atmosphere, we are able to protect patients from viruses such as the season flu and COVID-19. If you have any questions, please contact us as soon as possible. Ann LeAnn Le has been successfully managing dental practices since 1990. She is currently Practice Manager at Bunker Hill Dentistry in Houston, TX which she runs with her husband Dr. Tri M Le.