Gowns, shields and facemasks will be the new reality when visiting Quebec dentists
Dental clinics will have to follow a long list of rules, but Quebec's top health officials say they're ready
Disinfection and sterilization have always been part of Dr. Kim-Anh Nguyen's daily work, but the pandemic has forced the Montreal dentist to be more cautious than ever before — wearing a face mask, shield and protective gown while on the job.
Like others across the province, Nguyen's clinic in Ville-Émard will finally be offering non-essential dental treatment starting June 1, when Quebec lifts restrictions on personal-care services ranging from physiotherapy to nutrition counselling.
Everybody — clients included — will be expected to follow a list of guidelines recommended by the provincial government.
But Nguyen said she isn't worried about adapting to the rules, as she has always offered her clients a safe environment.
"We are like a small hospital," she said.
"So we just have to add some things. We have to readjust the schedule. For sure there's some reorganization to be done."
Nguyen was able to help clients in emergency situations since Quebec began closing non-essential businesses in mid-March.
Oftentimes it was patients experiencing pain, she said, and she was able to treat them over the phone by prescribing medication or giving advice.
Next month, her patients will be able to receive all the regular checkups and cleanings.
Kim-Anh Nguyen explains what it will be like to visit the dentist:
Long list of new rules
Going to the dentist will be different under the rules laid out by Quebec's Health Ministry.
There will be more protective equipment, proper air filtration in each consult room and even more frequent use of dental dams to contain patient spittle.
Waiting rooms will have a limited capacity or there will be no waiting at all as clients will be expected to go directly to their consultation.
Physical distancing will be expected whenever possible and there may even be markings on the floor indicating where people can stand.
Coughing into the elbow, handwashing and all the usual guidelines will also be expected.
Customers will be required to cancel their appointment if they have any symptoms of the coronavirus, and staff will be required to stay home if they feel sick as well,.
Staff are advised to work in teams so if one person gets sick, the whole team will isolate.
We're ready, dentists say
Dr. Guy Lafrance of Quebec's Order of Dentists said clinics are prepared to follow the rules, having already operated under strict codes to protect patients and staff from contagions.
"They already work with a high standard of sterilization and hygiene in the office," he said. "So it is just going to be a little more but not that much."
Health Minister Danielle McCann said the province's public health directorate has worked closely with the workplace health and safety board and with the various professions to create virtual guides specific to each service.
With files from Sarah Leavitt