87.5 F
San Fernando
Friday, Jul 19, 2024

Dentists Seek Safety, Patients in Pandemic

Dr. Dar Radfar, a Ventura County dentist with offices in Thousand Oaks and Oxnard, has ramped up his social media presence with webinars to guide others in his profession toward safely seeing non-emergency clients again. Across the county line in Los Angeles, dentist offices are still only allowed to see patients if it’s an emergency, according to the L.A. County Department of Public Health. There’s no hard date yet for normal procedures to resume in L.A. Radfar has been guiding others in the industry for a couple months now with suggestions for waiting room layout (it’s in your car now), temperature checks for patients, personal protective equipment to be worn for everything from a cleaning to dental surgery, and even an in-house COVID-19 testing area for antibodies before you’re allowed to be seen. “There’s also what we call a pulse oximeter, a little finger pulse (device) we put on them to make sure their respiratory system is above 92 (SpO2) – below 92 indicates that they could have respiratory distress that they’re not really aware of,” said Radfar. An oximeter measures oxygen saturation levels in the blood. Staff at Radfar’s offices have started phone screenings too, asking if a future patient has experienced a fever, chills or has traveled abroad recently. “I’ve also been incorporating the COVID antibody screening tests, using a valid test that has been FDA approved for emergency use authorization,” added Radfar. “What it does is it helps to identify a couple different antibodies. The first antibody is what you develop between the first three to seven days of infection. If that antibody shows up, it’s called IGM.” The second antibody, called IGG, is what sticks around for months after a person has been exposed to COVID-19, Radfar said, long after the 14-day timeframe. He has taught several thousand dentists about these extra precautions through his webinars, and hundreds have gone ahead and ordered such antibody kits, he added. “Of course, we can screen, but we can also play defense,” Radfar said, referring to fitted masks, face shields, goggles and gowns. Dentists have also temporarily stopped UV cleaning treatments, instead resorting to teeth scraping to minimize aerosols being released into the air. As an extra precaution, patients wear a mask (either provided or brought with them) as soon as they get out of their car, only to remove it right before their treatment, Radfar explained. “Hygienists and dentists are the highest risk factor because we’re working in the mouth, which is where the droplets come out of, and you’re doing work that creates aerosols that come up into the air,” he noted. There is no stimulus plan in place for dental offices to get PPE, the Ventura County dentist said, meaning offices have had to go online to purchase protective equipment overseas. “It’s sad that we’re not given priority because we’re more at risk of getting something as a dental practitioner than any other profession in any other industry, including an ER doctor,” said Radfar. Radfar owns 805 Dentistry in Thousand Oaks and co-owns Oxnard Gentle Dentistry. He specializes in the treatment of sleep apnea and snoring, in addition to general dental procedures.

Featured Articles

Related Articles