On Sep. 22, members of the CDC announced the first appearance of the R.1 COVID-19 variant in the United States, reminding us all that the pandemic is still an ongoing struggle.
Despite the widespread distribution of vaccines against the virus, cases of COVID-19 continue to rise and impact businesses of all sorts, including the dental industry.
Since the initial splash of COVID-19 in March, 2020, both medical professionals and the nation as a whole have learned quite a bit.
However, despite the growing knowledge of the virus, there is still much to learn.
Fortunately, there are many methods available to help increase safety and to bring success to your office during the COVID-19 crisis.
Be Aware of Your Local COVID-19 Situation
A huge step in keeping your dental practice safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is by being aware of the number of cases and the types of regulations happening in your location.
By watching out for spikes in COVID-19 cases, you can prepare your office and modify any regulations or sanitation protocols in place, according to the severity of the illness in your area.
When you notice a high number of cases in your area, you can prepare to fight the spread if it happens to enter your office.
If the number of cases in your location begins to reach dangerous levels, OSHA encourages dentists to consider asking those who come to the office to follow standard health guidelines.
These guidelines include asking your patients to wear masks in the office, or to consider staying home unless it’s an emergency situation.
Another option is to set up virtual meetings with clients who show symptoms, or isolate patients in different areas of you practice. This helps prevent any potential spread from patient to patient.
In addition, keeping a close eye on the amount of time patients spend in your dental practice also helps reduce exposure.
Although these ideas work great for patients, they can also be applied to promote safety among your dental staff.
Your employees act as the social bubble of your practice. Keeping COVID-19 out of that bubble keeps your dental practice running smoothly and safely.
On top of encouraging employees to follow local health guidelines, encouraging vaccination among your staff greatly reduces the risk among both your team and your patients.
Re-examine Dental Practice’s Equipment
Your dental practice is already set up with equipment to create an extremely sanitary environment, but there may be some small details to help make your area even cleaner.
While common dental practice procedures already require wearing a mask and gloves, you can also consider adding eye protection to boost medical sanitation. Since COVID-19 can be spread through contact with eyes, adding eyewear can help prevent virus transmission.
OSHA also recommends limiting the amount of aerosol tools used in your office. If aerosol-generated procedures are a must, consider limiting the number of staff involved in the process.
Financial Assistance: the Provider Relief Fund
With COVID-19 creating a loss of jobs, hurting employment, and shaking the workforce as a whole, many programs are available to help aid the comeback of industries.
Some of these options are open to dentists as well, and shouldn’t be overlooked. These tools can also be used as resources to aid in finding new employees or retaining your current ones.
For example, dentists are eligible to apply for the Provider Relief Fund, which grants money to dentists who can provide evidence of a loss in revenue caused by the pandemic. Applications for the assistance are available beginning on Sep. 29.
The Provider Relief Fund, containing $17 billion in aid, can help you continue to maintain safety and provide care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking for aid like the Provider Relief Fund can help your business, but it’s not the only option.
By staying up to date on resources provided for your industry, it becomes much easier to keep your dental practice running smooth.
If you’re interested in seeing if you qualify for the Provider Relief Fund, or if you would like to apply, you can check it out right here.
Your Hard Work is Paying Off
According to the American Dental Association, 99.7% of dentists have reported using safer protocols and making modifications to their practices to eliminate the spread of COVID-19.
So far, that work has paid off. The ADA also reports that the infection prevalence rate of dentists in the United States sat as low as 2.6% as of November 2020, marking the dental industry as one of the professions with the lowest transmission rate.
Considering the close contact and number of patients your dental practice is exposed to every day, this low percentage is a testament to the safe practices that have been adopted.
Bringing It Together
Even as vaccination rates continue to help slow the spread, COVID-19 is still affecting dental practices across the country.
However, keeping general safety procedures in mind goes a long way towards making sure your office continues to run smoothly and safely. Additionally, looking for financial assistance through programs like the Provider Relief Fund is a great way to get the aid you need.
Although it’s a challenging time for everyone, dentists like you can be among the fiercest warriors in the fight against COVID-19. Doing your part means your dental practice can continue serving your patients with minimal interruption.
About First Choice Dental Lab
First Choice Dental Lab is a full-service dental lab with locations in Downers Grove, Il. & Wauwatosa, Wi.
We manufacture & customize quality dental restorations for general dentists. We create smiles based on your needs and budget.
We’re here to help you give your patients a reason to smile!
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