Sholio (sholio) wrote,

Dental cleanings in the time of plague

I had a scheduled dental cleaning today and decided to go ahead and keep the appointment. For the most part it's not that different from normal, but it was interesting seeing how office procedures have changed.

They called me the day before and had me answer some questions: had I been out of state recently, did I have any symptoms like fever/coughing, had I been around anyone who did, etc.

You need to wear a mask in the office. All magazines have been removed from the waiting area. They don't mind people being in the waiting area, though. My dental office is a small mother/daughter practice and they own the entire building, so there's a large waiting area that rarely has very many people in it (today, there was no one else out there when I was) and the building in general is open and airy with lots of space, which I now appreciate for entirely new reasons.

As soon as you come in, there's a hand sanitizer station and you need to use it. Everyone, of course, is masked. When they take you into the back, they take your temperature with a forehead thermometer and go through the same list of symptom/exposure questions as yesterday.

From there it proceeds like a normal appointment; the only difference is that they no longer use any of the tools that tend to spray aerosols in the air: no air polisher, no Cavitron. It was all manual scraping and the old-style grit polisher.

The one thing they really don't have down yet is what to do with your mask after you take it off. Nobody prompted me to do anything with it, and after holding it for a while I asked if it was okay to put it on the edge of a counter (which I assume are sanitized regularly and probably pretty safe). I didn't like having to put my mask back on after having it off for an hour with all kinds of potential aerosols about, but there's really no way around a certain minimal amount of risk; I had my hair all over the dental chair too, since I forgot to put it up before leaving the house.

It was the most time I've spent that close to a person I'm not married to in three months. Also, since everyone is usually masked and gloved for dental cleanings anyway, that part of it felt astonishingly normal, complete with idle chitchat while your mouth is too full of garden tools to answer.

On the way back, I stopped to get coffee from a drive-thru and the person in front of me paid for me. :') I decided to keep it going and paid for the person behind me. It was such a nice surprise. This entry is also posted at with comment count unavailable comments.
Tags: life
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