HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- When dentist offices slowly begin to reopen around Virginia, patients will notice some changes during their next appointments.
Dr. Campbell Delk plans to reopen Delk Family Dentistry in Henrico on Monday following the recommendations of Governor Northam, the American Dental Association, and the Virginia Dental Association.
For the last six weeks, he said his office was only treating emergency cases in order to conserve personal protection equipment (PPE) and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Delk said this week, the Virginia Dental Association and American Dental Association sent an email with their “return to work” guidelines. It’s a checklist that gives dentists a blueprint for re-opening.
At Delk Family Dentistry, patients won’t immediately enter the building when they arrive. Instead, patients will wait in their cars and be called inside when the office is ready.
All patients and staff will be screened the moment they enter the office -- checking temperatures and answering questions regarding travel and potential COVID-19 exposure.
"There's not going to be a whole lot of interaction with a lot of people except maybe to go in," said Dr. Delk. "And every patient is going to have to wash their hands when they come in, and there will be pre-procedural mouth rinses that they use when they come into the office. And you may see that the staff may look a little different. We're going to have masks and face shields and all kinds of stuff in my office."
Dr. Delk said extra safety measures would be implemented in the office as well.
"We bought portable air filtration units for every operatory now that we’ve never had in there before as an extra precaution to help turn over the air in the operatories as we go through procedures," Delk said. "I’ve had some UV lights installed in my HVAC systems in the office to help with the air filtration system. We’ve purchased some things to help the operative procedures go a little bit better so we’re reducing the number of aerosols that are produced in the operatory as we go."
He said they would be keeping social distancing in mind as well.
"I know in my office we’re spacing out our appointments a little more to allow for a little less traffic as we go," Delk said.
"It is going to take us a little while to figure out what is the new normal, because I don’t know that it will be the same as it was before, it’s going to be a little bit different. But I also think that we’re all going to be able to adjust to it and we’re going to figure out that it’s going to be as comfortable and safe as it was before. It may just look a little bit different at this point," he added.
Despite the changes, Delk said the quality of care will still be the same. He recommends that patients who are healthy and feel comfortable schedule their regular check-ups.
"One of the main issues with dentistry is that sometimes problems don’t arise until they’re very big problems, so the whole purpose of going for your check-ups and annual exams is that we try to catch things before they become major problems," Delk said. "So would I recommend that patients come in? Absolutely."
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