In these challenging times, we hope that you and your family are safe and well. Many industries across Melbourne are in lockdown due to stage 4 restrictions. We would like to update you on the latest restrictions that have been imposed on dental practices across Melbourne and how this affects you as our patient.
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, the key decision-making committee for health emergencies, has recommended that all dental practices in Australia implement COVID-19 Level 3 Dental Practice Restrictions.
These guidelines are based on a scenario where COVID-19 infection is mostly well contained, but community transmission is increasing. Level 3 (“restrict”) is enacted when data shows that COVID-19 is not contained.
As such, it is critical that we, as dental practitioners use our professional judgment and moral responsibility to protect the welfare of the entire population (including our team) by avoiding all care that is not urgent in nature. Reducing the volume and extent of dental practice will limit the spread of infection. This will also assist to reduce the surge demand on acute health facilities and supplies. This translates into fewer lives lost and a faster recovery period.
What does Level 3 (“restrict”) mean in terms of your dental treatment?
For patients who do not meet epidemiological/clinical criteria for COVID-19
We will need to defer all routine dental treatment. This means deferring:
- All routine examinations (check-ups), scale and clean appointments.
- Routine restorative care such as fillings.
- Dental implant placement or restoration of an implant.
- Preparations for crowns and bridges, veneers.
- Non-emergency orthodontic treatment
If a patient is not in pain and does not have an infection or dental concern with serious medical implications, then they can be seen in several weeks/months when the pandemic has been controlled.
For patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection
Treatment should be referred to a clinic with appropriate facilities and equipment or deferred.
What dental services can we performed in Level 3 (“restrict”):
Only dental treatments that do not generate aerosols, or where treatments generating aerosols are limited to:
- Management of patients with acute dental pain e.g. root canal therapy or dental extractions.
- Management of significantly damaged upper front teeth e.g. due to trauma.
- Soft tissue pathology e.g. ulcers.
- Management of complex medically compromised patients with dental concerns which may compromise their systemic disease.
- Management of those at a higher risk of rapid progression of dental disease due to socio-economic or cultural factors.
- Management of patients referred by a medical practitioner for medically necessary dental care.
Our Balwyn dentists need to use their professional judgment and moral responsibility to protect the welfare of the population by avoiding all care that is not urgent in nature and as such each patient’s appointment will be addressed on an individual basis.
As we will have to defer many appointments for procedures that produce aerosols, please expect a call from one of our team members, in the next few weeks.
Our team members will call to reschedule any appointments that are restricted under the Level 3 guidelines and they will move your appointment forward by 4 to 8 weeks.
Should the restrictions be downgraded to level 2 or 1, we will call and move the appointments to an earlier date as soon as we are advised of the changes.
We have taken a number of steps to help protect our staff and patients during this outbreak, some of which include:
• We have implemented a daily health screening check point and log for all employees entering the workplace. Our staff pay special attention to their own symptoms and stay home if they present with symptoms of COVID-19.
• We request that the patient limit the number of visitors accompanying him or her to the dental appointment to only those people who are necessary.
• We advise patients that they, and anyone accompanying them to the appointment, will be requested to wear a cloth face covering or facemask when entering the facility and will undergo screening for fever and symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
• We telephone triage all patients in need of dental care. Assess the patient’s dental condition and determine whether the patient needs to be seen in the dental setting.
• We have provided supplies for respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette, including alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) with at least 60% alcohol and tissues.
• We have removed toys, magazines, and other frequently touched objects from our waiting room that cannot be regularly cleaned and disinfected.
• There are clear signs at the front door to alert people who have either travelled overseas, had cold or flu symptoms or come in to contact with anyone that has had COVID-19 not to enter the building, and to call us for instructions.
• We adhere to strict environmental cleaning and disinfection procedures consistently and correctly after each patient.
These are just a few of the many steps our Balwyn practice has undertaken to ensure we are operating as safety as possible for staff and patients. Please call our clinic if you have any questions.