PHOENIX — Dental offices, already take hygiene and infection control seriously, have had to go above and beyond normal measures to keep their staff and patients safe from COVID-19.
A trip to the dentist's office may be necessary if you are suffering from a tooth ache, but now it can be a high risk move. However, it may give you peace of mind to know that most local dentists are exceeding state and federal health safety standards to ensure public safety during this pandemic.
ABC15 visited Studio B Smiles, a full service dental practice with locations in Scottsdale and Phoenix. A big sign warning customers to mask up is displayed right outside the front door. The sign also informs patients that their temperature will be taken and any guests will have to wait outside.
Once inside, a front desk staff member at Studio B Smiles will go through a checklist of symptoms with every patient while taking their temperature. All employees also have their temperature taken before the start of their shift.
Dr. John Badolato, the founder of Studio B Smiles, said COVID-19 has taken quite a toll on the dental industry.
"I have a staff of 16 people. I had to furlough everyone except two staff members between my two offices," said Dr. Badolato.
Now their offices are open for business, but with more safety measures in place to protect everyone.
Masks are required in the dental office until you are placed in an isolation room. Those who do not have a mask will be provided with one, courtesy of Studio B Smiles. All staff are equipped with masks, gloves and face shields. This personal protective equipment is their best defense against COVID-19, Dr. Badolato told ABC15.
Many dentists are experimenting with new antibacterial mouth rinsing solutions and suction equipment. They are designed to kill as much bacteria as possible and remove more aerosols around them.
"What we're learning is that, boy, there were really a lot of aerosols. You'll see that on the face shields that we have to wipe down at the end of the day, or, in between patients of course, you'll see what's out there," said Dr. Badolato.
He also showed ABC15 fogging equipment that is used in the office. It is filled with a high grade cleaning solution that consists of Hypochlorous Acid. His practices are using it to clean every room multiple times a day.
"Hypochlorous Acid kills many pathogens including COVID-19 and it is safe to breathe. We are using this in between patients and it really gets into every nook and cranny, and on to all the surfaces in the rooms," said Dr. Badolato.
Elective dental procedures, such as veneers, that were banned by the state are now back on track. However, Dr. Badolato said some dental practices, including his, would require patients undergoing any elective procedure that required teeth alteration to go through a COVID-19 test first.
His offices were equipped with multiple packages of COVID-19 rapid response tests for patients.