How dental offices are working to keep you safe

By Dr. Stephanie McGannDMD FAGD, Columnist, The Times

It’s been a complicated year for everyone. In the dental world we have faced full business shutdowns, treating only emergency patients while scrambling for overpriced and undelivered PPE and taking care of our patients during a time of overall uncertainty. Dentists and dental employees alike were weighing the pros and cons of returning to work.  Many dentists, dental hygienists and staff who were approaching the end of their careers felt the heavy burden of the new normal and retired, sold their practices or just plain walked away.

Those of  us who are still hard at work have had to make many changes to keep things moving forward safely. Almost every dentist I know has had staff turnover, changes in office hours and protocols and is working diligently to make this new normal work.

Now, as we catch our breath and prepare for the inevitable second wave of virus cases, we have learned a lot.  First, while the initial thought was that a dental office was a hazardous place to be and work, the diligent work by a group who is no stranger to infection control has proved otherwise based on a recent press release by the American Dental Association.  Dental practices have invested in materials, technology and protocols  to reduce or eliminate the spread of the airborne virus. Team members are committed to maintaining a safe workplace and making patient care as safe as always.  The rates of infection in the dental community are significantly lower than the general population.  The dental community gets it and I am so proud of my profession right now.

So moving forward what does all this mean for our patients?  While I cannot speak for every dentist I can share decades of experience with my readers.

  1. Don’t put off dental care because of fear of Covid.  Your dental team has been working hard to make sure you are safe.
  2. Follow the rules of your dental practice. Every office has developed protocols that must be adhered too.  Answer the questions truthfully, don’t argue about having your temperature taken and wear a mask when asked.
  3. Expect things to be a little different. We have the same supply chain as everyone else. Our lab cases and supplies suffer from inconsistent shipping. Please be flexible and patient. Every practice is doing their best in these complex times.
  4.  We are scheduling differently to limit the number of people in the reception area at one time – so please be on time.
  5. Most dentists are scheduling longer appointments to limit turnover – you may be surprised to learn that you can get a lot of dental care in one visit. Don’t hesitate to ask.
  6. Most importantly, if you or a member of your family tests positive or  has covid-like symptoms, call and stay home.  We do our best to take care of you, please help take care of us.


None of us know what 2021 will bring.  It’s important that we all listen to the science, the doctors and public health professionals who have spent their entire careers learning how to handle this.  It’s crucial that we stay vigilant and do everything we can to protect ourselves, and others from Covid-19.

Don’t forget as this year is coming to an end – if you have dental  benefits, use them before they go to waste. . There is no guarantee what tomorrow may bring.

Dr. Stephanie McGann, who has more than two decades of dental practice experience, is a resident of the Unionville area and owns and practices at Rainbow Valley Dental, in Valley. She is a past President of the Chester/Delaware Dental Society and she is a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry.

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