Swords Orthodontics Getting Ready to Re-Open Part II: The Virus and the Nation
It’s over a month since the government brought in the serious lockdown measures and last Friday, it announced its plan to gradually lift the restrictions in 5 phases. For our part, Swords Orthodontics has been seeing patients in pain or distress but we haven’t been conducting regular orthodontics. We’re looking forward to getting back to treating people and we’ve been spending the time getting ready for it.
We don’t have the information from the government as to when and how dentistry resumes but that will be one of the last bits of the jigsaw to go in. I can imagine that everyone is looking forward to the restrictions easing - at this stage, my hair looks like Boris Johnson cut it in the dark and a trip to the Aldi near the practice feels like a weekend in Vegas with Johnny Depp and Guns n' Roses.
Please understand that when this happens, the coronavirus hasn’t been switched off, it’s still a problem, but it will be a problem that the dental profession and the government think can be avoided enough to return to treating people. It seems like ages ago that we were talking about flattening the curve, but that's exactly what we'll be up to all over again, this time keeping it flat, or as someone else referred to it, the hammer and the dance. And now, we dance.
But don’t expect it to be business as usual.
The outstanding things to remember are:
- Ireland is still experiencing the presence of a virus that can be a serious threat to health
- This virus currently has no vaccine or cure
- Although the virus can be fatal for some people, most people with the illness get over it without much trouble
- People can be transmitting the virus to other people even when they appear healthy
- Young people and children tend to be less affected by this
- Old people and people with existing medical problems can be much more affected than average
- This virus is spread by breathing it in or by touching the face area with hands that are contaminated by the virus
- Coughing can release the virus into the air
Accordingly the best ways of stopping the virus from spreading are still some very uncomplicated ones:
- wash your hands regularly
- stay at least 2m away from someone that doesn't live in your house
- wash your hands regularly
- if you have to cough or sneeze, use a tissue and dispose of it safely afterwards, or cough/sneeze into the inside of your elbow (cough ettiquette)
- wash your hands regularly - particularly before preparing food or doing adjustments to your orthodontic braces
- don't touch your face
- wash your hands regularly, I'm not sure if I mentioned that earlier
Those points all still apply even when the lockdown lifts up. As a result, the government has identified some jobs/activities as high risk – hairdressing and tattooing are specifically mentioned in the document “Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business”. These points are even more relevant to dentistry, and particularly orthodontics, because:
- Like coughing, some dental procedures release a fine spray of saliva into the air
- A majority of our patients are young - they might look and feel completely healthy but be capable of spreading the virus
- Often our young patients are brought to their appointments by their grandparents because their parents are at work
- Sometimes our young patients come to appointments with brothers and sisters (probably because there’s no one to mind them at home when a grown-up takes the patient to see us)
- Very young kids love exploring new places and grabbing everything that looks new to them. Which is pretty much everything in a dental surgery
- Dentistry usually involves the dentist being within a close distance to the patient – probably only a few dozen centimetres between our mouths and noses – for extended times and there is a lot of touching the mouth area
With these in mind, there’ll be some changes in how we’ll do the orthodontics and I’ll be talking about that in the next article in the series. Don’t worry, we’ll still be doing orthodontics but a few things will have to be different – I think you’ll understand, but I don’t think you’ll mind.