To All Our Valued Patients,
Firstly, we hope that as you read this email you and your loved ones are all safe. We hope every single person is observing the social distancing or self-isolation practices, to keep yourselves protected and to help our community try and rapidly flatten the curve of this COVID-19 pandemic.
We know this is a long email but please read to the end so you can be informed of how our services have changed during this time.
Is The Practice Closed?
As of Monday 30th March 2020, Little Smiles Family Dental will be scaling back to a two day practice, open for Level 3 emergencies by appointment only on Mondays and Thursdays.
While our practice is currently classified as an ‘essential service’ we do have restrictions guided by the Australia Dental Association (ADA) and the Australian Government on what types of treatments we can provide.
Due to balancing the safety of our patients, our staff and working to a reduced services framework, we have had to reduce staff hours and also stand some staff down to allow us to cope and enable us to be in a position to operate once restrictions lift. This has been done with a heavy heart but all staff positions will be honoured and we look to provide you with the same service and family of staff that you have come to know.
When restrictions lift we will reschedule all patients who had bookings over this time. This could mean that you may see a different dentist or oral health therapist from your usual clinician, but we expect this to be a once off situation, as our team line up remains the same.
We are not closed, but will be moving to limited patient support model, so please direct all your enquiries to our work email address: firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a voice message at(02) 9986 0600.
One of our team members will get back to you as soon as possible, although this may take up to 24 hours in light of the changes we have put into place in a very short period of time.
What Treatments Are Available?
The Dental Profession has been instructed (effective immediately), to roll out the Level 3 (Reduction) Operations Framework for our industry. This means:
1. All non-urgent routine dental treatments that will not impact on the dental or general health of the patient should be deferred, based on ADANSW recommendations at this stage.
2. We can still provide clinically necessaryurgent and emergency dental treatment using standard precautions for non COVID-19 infected patients. The standard precautions involve use of personal protective equipment (PPE), rubber dam, eliminating the generation of aerosols, using high speed suction, hand instrumentation where possible, and using temporary fillings until such time a more permanent solution can be delivered.
3. At this stage, we consider ‘emergency dental treatment’ to include the following:
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Facial swelling, that may compromise airway
- Facial trauma
4. At this stage, we consider ‘urgent dental treatment’ to include the following:
- Management of patients with acute dental pain e.g. endodontic treatment under rubber dam, or extraction
- Management of significantly damaged upper front teeth (e.g. due to trauma, with restorative treatment provided under rubber dam)
- Soft tissue pathology e.g. ulcers
- Management of complex medically compromised patients with dental concerns which may compromise their systemic disease
- Management of those at a higher risk of rapid progression of dental disease due to socioeconomic or cultural factors
- Management of patients referred by a medical practitioner for medically necessary dental care
- Broken orthodontic brackets or wires that pose an aspiration or swallowing risk.
- Other (please call our practice to discuss if you are unsure).
5. We are required to defer the following treatment:
- Extractions of asymptomatic teeth without swelling
- Broken or chipped tooth/teeth
- Bleeding or sore gums, halitosis
- Loose teeth without aspiration risk
- Denture concerns
- Crown and bridge
- Scale and clean
- Clicking/grating in jaw joint
6. Orthodontics – Invisalign:
We are required to transition you to a holding pattern:
-If you do not need any further attachments or adjustments you can continue to wear your aligners as instructed. We are actively calling our orthodontic patients to discuss your current stage and we can post out further aligners if eligible.
-However, If you are at a stage in your treatment where new attachments or adjustments need to be made and you have no new aligners, you need to reduce your last aligner to 10-12 hours per day to ensure that your teeth stay in position and make your aligner last longer, when our office reopens we will discuss if you can continue as normal or if a new scans need to be made
7. Urgent dental treatment of suspected COVID-19 infected patients should be deferred until their status is determined. The objective is to not allow a known COVID-19 positive patient to enter our premises where possible, to reduce the possibility of community transmission. We need to triage those who truly need to attend our premises versus who can be assessed without attending.
Practices providing emergency dental treatment to known COVID-19 positive patients, must use additional infection control precautions to protect their staff and subsequent patients entering their practices, to reduce the overall potential spread of the coronavirus.
At Little Smiles Family Dental, we have not yet had to treat a patient who has tested positive to COVID-19. We cannot ethically deny treatment to any of our patients if they truly present with a dental emergency. Our protocol would be to treat them at the end of the day, use no equipment that could potentially generate aerosol, and use additional precautions as per the ADA COVID-19 Guidelines.
As a profession, we know that most of our treatments are essential but some are non-essential or elective. During this time of pandemic management, we will be redirecting our services to helping patients with essential needs, and ask our loyal and understanding patients to defer your elective work until such time when these operations are scaled back to Level 1 or unrestricted.
Gum disease, dental decay and damaged teeth result in poor oral health. We also understand that oral health is intimately linked to general health, and during periods of heightened risk such as the COVID-19 pandemic, we would not want dental patients increasing their overall general health risk by dropping the ball with their oral health care.
We hope everyone is one of our patients remains well and safe. We will provide you with updates as and when they occur.
Again, we thank you for your patience and understanding in these unprecedented and challenging times.
Dr Carol Jackson
and the Little Smiles Family Dental Team