A different trip to the dentist: new rules and protocols in place

Dr. Micaela Fitzgerald (left) and a hygienist treat a dental patient at Fitzgerald Dentistry in Ottawa June 3, 2020. (Leah Larocque / CTV News Ottawa)

You can now go to the dentist in Ontario.

Many dental practices in Ottawa are re-opening their clinics this week, including Fitzgerald Dentistry on Metcalfe Street. The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO) has set out strict new rules and protocols for dentists to follow.

Dr. Micaela Fitzgerald says, "Dental offices have always had a high level of infection control. We have upped it, a lot is precautionary, but everyone should feel safe and taken care of."

Regular check-ups and appointments were put off for weeks because of COVID-19. Dentists were only allowed to see patients for emergencies until recently.

All patients will now need to go through a series a COVID-19 screening questions before receiving treatments. Dentists will call each patient the day before their appointment, to ask questions as well as outline the rules. 

Waiting rooms have been eliminated or reduced, and patients are being asked not to touch anything in the clinic, and to sanitize their hands several times.

Patients are also asked to wear a mask when coming to the clinic.

"We are working more slowly," Dr. Fitzgerald said. "We are having fewer people through the doors, and we are also triaging people. So, those who had bigger concerns while we were shut down are the ones who are coming in first."

Should someone fail part of the screening process, their procedure will happen in a closed-door room with a dentist and hygienist in full protective equipment. 

Strict sanitizing procedures will take place before and after each patient.

Dr. Fitzgerald says something else that changed since COVID-19 is waiting before cleaning the room. 

Fitzgerald says, "Before, we would have cleaned the room right away. Now we wait 15 minutes before cleaning- that’s just to let everything settle, then we clean.”

The period changes drastically should someone screen positive. "If we are treating someone who did not pass the screening, who we suspect might be exposed to COVID, the room will sit for three hours before we use it again."