If it’s been six months since your last dental hygiene appointment or check-up, you might be feeling a little anxious about visiting your dentist during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dentists are considered an essential business, so most have remained open. Many were only seeing patients in emergencies.
The Courier spoke with top local dentists in Beverly Hills about how they are implementing and practicing new protocols for health and safety measures.
“Dentists have been guarding against the transmission of airborne pathogens for decades”, Dr. Edward M. Ines told the Courier. “Dentistry adheres to the protocols of ‘universal precautions,’ meaning we treat every patient like they are contagious with something.”
At Dr. Ines’s practice, every room in the office now has an air purifier that changes the air every 12 minutes. The front office has sneeze protectors at the front desk counters which are wiped down after every patient. The office also uses telehealth (virtual or phone appointments) in order to limit a patient’s need to physically be in the office.
Dr. Joseph Goodman of Beverly Hills Dental Group is seeing a steady stream of patients for Veneers, Invisalign braces and also ozone treatments. The latter utilizes a water and oxygen mixture to clean teeth and treat the gum to kill bacteria. “It contains no chemicals, dyes or preservatives and no BPA – which is an ingredient in plastic and some old fillings that can be toxic and unhealthy,” said Goodman.
“During teeth cleaning appointments we only use hand instruments, again to not produce aerosol,” he added.
At Dr. Kenneth Martin Yates’s practice in Beverly Hills, social distancing is key. All patients are alone in the waiting room and during check-out due to scattered appointments. Everyone is asked to wear face masks.
And the office has installed a virus air filtration system and an Aerosol removal for when the dentist uses drill tools. In addition to gloves and face masks, hygienists also wear a face shield along with gowns and booties that are discarded after each patient.
Many offices are also now e-mailing forms to patents in advance. But Arthur Glosman’s office on Roxbury Drive was ahead of its time. “We have been a paperless and metal-free office which is bio-compatible and healthier since there are less free radicals in the mouth so this protects gums and tissues,” said Glosman.
Dr. Albert Toubia, who has been practicing in Beverly Hills for 37 years, is also following CDC recommendations. At his office, social distancing is ensured by a courtyard “waiting room.”
“The utmost importance for us is to prescreen. Before our patient comes in, our front office manager goes through a set of 10 questions to make sure the patient has no symptoms or has been exposed to COVID-19,” he told the Courier. “Once they arrive, we take their temperature and go through the questionnaire again. If any questions raise a concern, we reappoint the patient.”
Once inside, the patients gargle with diluted hydrogen peroxide. “There is no science that gargling will kill the virus,” said Dr. Toubia, “But during dental procedures, it tends to limit bacteria to be dispersed.”
Ora Dentistry Spa on Rodeo Drive is taking extra precautions by installing a medical-grade Hepa air filtration system inside the treatment rooms to promote a sterile environment. The Zen environment helps ease tensions upon arrival. “We remove all the negative sensations and put people’s minds at ease,” said the practice owner, Dr. Sam Saleh.
The staff at Ora Dentistry Spa follows World Health Organization protocol for social distancing and PPE (personal protective equipment). They wear special gowns, disposable booties, and head caps for each treatment room shift, and so do patients.
“We have implemented systems found to be both effective and sustainable in light of the pandemic and moving forward in providing dental treatment to our patients,” noted Saleh.