UPDATE SUMMER 2021
It is great to be back in the saddle! We’ve completed our first year of patient care in the new world of dentistry. It’s been a terrific success with the support of our caring and loyal patients. We can’t thank you enough for your perseverance! Please check out our welcome back video here:
My fervent hope is that you and your families have weathered this unprecedented series of storms safely and in good health. For those of you who have lost friends or loved ones, we offer our sincere condolences and wish you fond memories of the times you spent with them. Since so many of you are now vaccinated or recovered from an infection, I hope to see you soon.
I wish to express my team’s sincere best wishes for those of you who are getting back to school and college experiences. As we turn the corner on the pandemic, we know that education still looks a little different in this COVID era, but our heartfelt wishes for your success in the future remain resolute.
We receive weekly state guidance from Gov. Sununu via the New Hampshire Dental Society (NHDS), national guidance from the American Dental Society (ADA), and health guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). At this time, despite numerous advances in both knowledge and treatment of the COVID-19 pandemic, we in the medical field are still being held to the standards imposed by the CDC and OSHA in May 2020. That means, in order to protect those for whom we are providing care, we are still restricted as to whom we permit in our offices—every person entering must be screened verbally and physically (we use a scanning thermometer and pulse oximetry to record current oxygen status). In order to accomplish that mandate, we are still “closed” to entry and are accessible on an individual basis by phone at 603-882-3001 (see below).
This update will be long (I apologize in advance!) as it addresses 3 things:
- Methods to contact our office for general appointments and care
- Status of Reopening
- What we’ve done to secure patient and team safety
1. Methods to contact our office:
For general concerns or questions during office hours, please call (603) 882-3001 and leave a message describing your concern.
For emergency needs after hours, call (603) 882-3001 and leave a message describing your concern so that my staff may address your concerns on the following business day and then follow the prompts to contact me directly. We will arrange care for every emergency need, and have the ability to initiate a tele-dental triage consultation, if needed, to manage your needs appropriately and accordingly.
2. Status of Reopening
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been here for you. In addition, we have been in the office for full-time, regular patient care since June 1, 2020, when we completed a “soft reopening” to permit our patients and staff to acclimate to the changes induced by the viral crisis that has forced us to shut down our work, our travel and our lives.
Starting July 1, 2020, we began “new normal” scheduling” and welcomed back our patients for continuing care–two full weeks ahead of schedule! We decreased June’s extended appointment times from 120 minutes to 90 minutes; incorporated block schedules to limit the number of patients “crossing paths;” and enhanced the post-treatment sterilization and disinfection procedures. Now that we are fully trained, fully equipped with aerosol mitigation protocols, and armed with experience, our regular hygiene appointment times are being reduced in order to accommodate the safe care of more patients. We are back at full steam to provide preventive cleaning, periodontal (gum disease) therapy and a full range of restorative and surgical therapies.
3. What we’ve done to secure patient and team safety
It is and always has been my opinion that the profession of dentistry has been successfully managing infection control since the late 1980s, when HIV and Hepatitis-B invaded our world, by maintaining constant vigilance to the contagiousness of the aerosols created during dental treatment. Despite the close nature of our work, there has not been a single, documented case of practitioner-to-patient or patient-to-practitioner transmission of aids or hepatitis in the United States during my career of almost 35 years! I expect COVID-19 to be no different. We who are most at risk of contamination by the virus know that it is safe to visit your dentist–and we want EVERYONE to stay healthy!
After our office closed on March 17, 2020, to help “flatten the curve”, I spent approximately 60 hours of study and research in order to update my infectious disease knowledge base with webinars and training from the CDC, the WHO, the ADA, the New Hampshire Dental Society and numerous consulting firms around the country. In addition, I have spent uncounted hours gathering data on aerosol mitigation and procuring personal protection equipment to maintain the health and safety of my team members so they are able to provide you with the best and safest dental care possible.
We upgraded our technical services and renovated our physical office to mitigate the potential for aerosol contamination, thereby limiting the airborne spread of potentially infectious germs:
- Installed Vanguard chairside HEPA aerosol suction units that will collect up to 95% of the spray created during dental treatments.
- Installed Molekule HEPA/PECO air scrubber purifiers in each of the treatment rooms.
- Installed Molekule HEPA air purifiers in hallways and “public” spaces.
- Upgraded the office HVAC system to MERV-11 filtration.
- Ordered hand-held Purevac high-volume evacuation systems in each of the hygiene treatment rooms to further reduce risk at the point of aerosol generation.
- Installed tempered glass partitions in the administration areas of the office.
- Installed doors in all treatment rooms.
Until we meet again in person in the regular swing of life post-quarantine, please be safe. Wash your hands, wear a mask when appropriate to do so (not when out in the fresh air!), practice social distancing and support your local small businesses. Our office doors are still locked, but we are here for you. All you need to do is call!
Scott F Bobbitt DMD MAGD DICOI