As a dentist in upstate New York, trust me, I am as anxious to return to the dental practice as many of you are. I miss working with my team, seeing my patients, and helping them down the path toward optimal oral health. I went to school to be a dentist, and sitting on the sidelines has been as tough for me as it has for so many of you.
We are now getting to the point in many parts of the country where dental practices are nearing a return to a full patient load. Part of that return to a fuller practice will include how we are going to schedule our patients and how we are prioritizing which patients will have their restorative and cosmetic needs met first. While we can think of many patients who need to be seen for checkups or hygiene appointments, we can all think of patients we were working with who were at the start, in the middle, near the end, or in the postcompletion stage of their restorative treatment.
Those are the patients I want you to be thinking about right now. Those are also the patients who I hope you have reached out to during this closure or slowdown in your practice to keep tabs on them and make sure that your business stayed in the front of their minds. If you haven't, or you feel like you're ready to start figuring out what the restorative and cosmetic part of your practice will look like in the coming days, now is a great time to begin that exercise.
Yes, hygiene is the lifeblood of the practice and, yes, there are a lot of questions you will need to answer about that as well when it comes to recall and scheduling. However, let's focus right now on who and what is going to fill the dentist's chair.
This is an exercise that is going to be different for every practice and every state. But no matter where you are, there are some things that will be key for you. Let's talk about three of them that I believe will be critical to a practice's success.
First, isolation is a must. Whether that's with a rubber dam or a product such as Zyris/Isolite, isolation and the control of aerosols is going to play a very important role in every post-COVID-19 procedure.
Second, I think it's smart to add 20 minutes to every appointment and to stagger those appointments. For a long time, we dentists wanted back-to-back-to-back-to-back appointments to maximize efficiency and chair time. Block scheduling was the key to success, right? That was then. This is now.
In this era, we must minimize the contact our patients have with each other, and we also want to minimize the amount of time the team is together in one room. That can also include sitting in the lunch room together as in the days of old.
Third, I'm going to suggest that every single patient who comes into your practice rinses with hydrogen peroxide pretreatment. Data are emerging to show that hydrogen peroxide could possibly be effective in the fight against COVID-19. Whatever we can do to help minimize the chance of any COVID-19 cross-contamination when a patient is in the practice is important to explore.
There is a lot that goes into the schedule and how things could potentially look for the restorative side of our practices in the near future. I have plenty of other thoughts on welcoming your patients back that you can hear in the video below.
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