Clinics say they are following safety protocols
Bengaluru: Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, dentists’ clinics in the city are seeing fewer visits by patients. They prefer phone consultations.
The clinics say they are taking precautions such as sanitisation, fumigation, sterilization and wearing safety equipment to prevent the spread of the virus, but not many patients seem convinced.
Dr Irene Chrystal from the Dental Health Clinic informed The Observer: “It isn’t risky for a dental check in the middle of the pandemic as everybody follows protocols. We do not call patients to the clinic unless it’s urgent. At the entrance, the patients have to sanitise and are given head caps and foot covers. We only allow three or four patients at a time slot to ensure their safety. Understanding the high risk of cross-infection, doctors wear double gloves and masks, face shields, and PPEs. Face shields get fogged easily, making visibility a problem.”
“The biggest challenge the clinic had to face because of Covid-19 was the backlog of patients. The clinic has not suggested Covid-19 tests to its patients because after an arousal procedure the room gets fumigated immediately. Doctors and staff now work for few hours; they cannot accommodate a lot of patients. The patient calls first, then sends images of the tooth problem followed by medication. If there is any drop in oxygen level and increase in temperature, we re-take the pulse and temperature test and ask them to consult a doctor. Every clinic follows the sterilization and sanitation protocol,” she added.
Sasa Blah, a dental student at Dayananda Sagar College, said: “It is safe to go to dental clinics for checkup. There is no need to get a Covid test done after visiting a clinic. However, if treatment is possible through a phone call, one should opt for it.”
Safety equipment such as face shields, double gloves, respirators, surgical gowns and scrubs are used while working on patients to ensure the safety of both patient and doctor.
Utkarsh Bhat, a patient at Clove Dental, said: “The clinic provides a facial mask, head mask, shoe cover. Temperature and blood pressure is checked on every visit which can be reassuring for patients. I would prefer an on-call appointment even if a dental clinic is safe for checkups.”
Dr Shruti Prasad of the Partha Dental Clinic said: “There is risk involved in dental checking as we closely work with the patient for long durations.” Doctors are at risk even with a double mask.
“We did not make any significant changes and use the same old methods like wiping chairs, changing the patients’ drape, fumigation and sterilization. The only thing that has changed now is that the disinfectant sodium hypochlorite is being used as it is more active against the virus. The clinic has witnessed a dip in the number of patients post lockdown. We often get calls from patients asking what precautions the clinic has taken. The seating arrangement was the only reorganization made to our workflow,” Dr Prasad added.
Mohan Kumar Srinivas from the Karnataka State Dental Council said: “Patients should try to avoid unimportant appointments during the pandemic. However, if the clinic and the patients strictly follow safety protocols, they can help minimize the risk of Covid transmission during dental checkups, resulting in the staff and patients to suffer less. Presently, we have not necessitated PPE kits for dental clinics as part of the standard precautions.”