Gowns, hairnets and no small talk: Sask. dentist says patients can expect big changes

Dr. Parviz Yazdani says your next trip to the dentist will be completely different.

Dental clinics can open May 4

Saskatchewan patients can expect a very different experience the next time they go to the dentist. (Attila Kisbendek/AFP via Getty Images)

Dr. Parviz Yazdani says your next trip to the dentist in Saskatchewan will be completely different.

Yazdani, a dentist in Saskatoon, said once his office reopens May 4, safeguards will be in place to guarantee everyone's safety.

"You will not be able to have as much of a chit chat with your dentist," he said.

"You'll be wearing a gown. I'll be wearing a gown. I'll be in a hairnet, all that kind of stuff. So, it will be a different experience."

Dental offices, along with chiropractors and several other types of businesses, will open next week in Saskatchewan as part of a gradual plan to reopen the economy.

Strict measures have been put in place by the College of Dental Surgeons of Saskatchewan to limit the spread of the disease.

All patients will be asked a series of questions to make sure they aren't showing COVID-19 symptoms. Their temperature will also be taken.

If drilling is required, the college asks dentists to do the procedure in an enclosed room with a closeable door.

Since many dental offices have an open concept layout, a large plastic tent with a zipper door can be set up around the work space.

The operating room must remain closed for two hours for dust in the room to settle before the room can be cleaned.

Since Yazdani's office is not set up for those sorts of precautions, he will only be performing checkups and basic dental work at the beginning.

"Basically any extractions, any surgeries that don't involve aerosols or drills would be okay," he said.

"Cleanings are pretty much not an option, for the most part. Fillings are not an option."

Yazdani said he's still not sure when he will feel comfortable opening his office to regular capacity.

He said a consistent supply of N95 respirators would help. He also wants to bring in new filtration systems to minimize the spread of any particles in the air from drilling.

"Those are expensive and costly retrofits," he said.

"You're looking at about $10,000 per chair, so a typical clinic would have to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000."

While he expects to go back to normal dental work eventually, he believes these safety measures will be in place permanently.

"It's kind of like taxes," he said.

"Checks and balances to ensure safety, you don't really go back from those usually."

The College of Dental Surgeons said dentists were continuing to provide safe, effective care. A statement also said dentists are working hard to source sufficient personal protective equipment.