When cases of COVID-19 began cropping up across Canada, dental offices were forced to suspend non-essential services such as routine check-ups and cleaning. But as provinces put their reopening plans into motion, and some dental offices resume normal service, staff and clients alike are wondering what a trip to the dentist will look like during the pandemic.
Safety is currently the number one priority for dental teams, and every office will have regulations and protocols in place to curtail transmission. Each province also offers its own set of recommendations for dental teams.
What does that mean for aspiring dental assistants? Well, your day-to-day duties will likely involve more rigorous sanitation and vigilance – but you will still get to build relationships with clients and be part of a dedicated team. If this appeals to you, read on to learn more about your future workplace!
Dental Assistants are Kept Safe Through New Protocols
Since Nova Scotia’s dental offices reopened relatively early, their regulations and protocols are now being adopted by other Canadian offices. Those interested in becoming a dental assistant can look at dental services in Nova Scotia to see what the practice will likely look like in a post-pandemic context.
At the Dalhousie Faculty of Dentistry, there are steps in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 even before a client enters the dental office. Clients are asked to come alone, if possible, and call when they arrive.
They will then be asked to enter a specific entrance which is separate from the staff entranceway. Here, the client is given a mask and asked to sanitize their hands. Staff will ask if the client has any COVID-19 symptoms, as well as take their temperature and assess their vital signs to make sure they are safe to enter.
Cleanliness is Key for Dental Assistant Program Grads
In dental assistant training, you will learn how to properly sterilize and maintain dental instruments and equipment – a skill which is more important than ever in a post-pandemic context.
Critical and semi-critical dental instruments are available in both heat-tolerant and single-use forms, and it is important for aspiring dental assistants to know how to disinfect each type properly.
All heat-tolerant equipment must be heat-sterilized between use, and disposable instruments must be promptly discarded. Dental assistants also must ensure that clean and contaminated instruments are separated at all times.
Personal Protective Equipment is Essential After Dental Assistant Training
Those interested in a dental assistant program will be relieved to know that dental offices are working hard to secure the necessary equipment to keep their team safe on the job. Since social distancing is not possible for dental assistants when they perform intra-oral duties, and COVID-19 can easily spread through saliva, it is imperative that dental assistants have access to PPE.
Dental assistants must wear masks, gloves, protective eyewear, and protective clothing when working directly with clients. It is also important for dental assistants to frequently and thoroughly wash their hands throughout their shift. In addition, dental offices should have hand sanitizer with an alcohol content above 70% readily available for dental assistants to use.
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