SAN ANTONIO – At UT Health San Antonio’s dental practice, protocols involve screening patients over the phone before their dental appointment for COVID-19 symptoms and even testing for the virus if needed.
Dr. Gary Guest, associate dean for patient care at UT Dentistry San Antonio, said aerosol droplets are the number one way the novel coronavirus gets transmitted.
“Dentistry is considered high risk because there’s many procedures that we do that do create aerosol and contaminated aerosols,” Guest said.
Aerosols are small particles created by using a dental handpiece or an air or water syringe in the mouth. Some common procedures that result in aerosols include fillings and crowns.
Jose Farina was recently referred by his dentist to UT Dentistry San Antonio for a procedure. He was screened for COVID-19 symptoms and also had to take a COVID-19 test before he was treated.
“If you’re going to have a high-risk procedure, like what I had, where I had to be for two, three hours, exposing my secretions to the doctors, to the assistants, then you’ve got to have a COVID(-19) test to make sure you’re not positive,” Farina said.
Farina believes all dental practices should have these types of measures.
For simple teeth cleaning, UT Dentistry San Antonio does not require a COVID-19 test.
Every dental office has different protocols. You should call your dentist’s office ahead of your visit to see what type of changes it has made amid the pandemic.