Today’s Dentist and The New Protocol

When was the last time you saw your dentist? Was it before “the virus’? Many of us are still overwhelmed by COVID-19, as it fills every gap in the news. Even as restrictions are being lifted, have any of you thought of having your teeth examined? I recently visited my dentist and you’d be surprised, by how things have changed.

An Appointment With The Dentist…

As my town gradually began to open up and restrictions were lifted, the dentist and his job were re-instated; with strict guidelines, of course. I didn’t bother making a call at first; people with the most painful issues would be clamoring for those hydraulic recliners. Eventually, my appointment was confirmed. I was given explicit instructions, as my dentist’s secretary spelled out the terms of my rendezvous.

She reminded me to arrive at their dental clinic no earlier than ten minutes before the scheduled time. Otherwise, as she put it, “You’ll have to wait outside on the bench over by the tree in the courtyard.” I didn’t even know they had a courtyard. She also told me that I would have to wear a mask. They would provide me with one if I had none. I made sure to bring mine… on that day.

My Dentist’s Waiting Room…

I was right on time and made my way to the dentist’s secretary. She assigned me seat number four. The chairs in that room had all been positioned six feet apart. I sat down. My dentist works with three other dental surgeons and a cluster of dental hygienists; five people were waiting with me. We looked at each other – above the rims of our cloaked mouths – and nodded.

Chair number six was called. The woman sitting in it got up and followed the dental hygienist to her assigned room. Seconds later her seat was being disinfected, sprayed, and cleansed. A lemon-fresh scent filled the air. I’d been waiting less than ten minutes when my hygienist came out. Dressed in a long gown, wearing a plastic face shield and a mask beneath it, she muttered – what I presumed to be – my name and motioned me to follow her.

An Empty Dentist’s Exam Room…

As I walked along the hallway, I passed an empty exam room. Evidently, a patient had recently been in there with an emergency dentist and every cubic inch of that space was being disinfected. I was to find out from my hygienist (later on), that the empty room would not be used for another hour – even after sterilization. “That’s a reassuring process,” I thought to myself.

As I sat down for my cleaning, I couldn’t help but wonder how my hygienist could perform her job in that long gown she was wearing; but she did. And she did it well. She admitted that they’d all got used to wearing the added safety clothing. Sanitizing their work stations thoroughly and more often meant managing their time precisely. They were all comfortable with social distancing and in her words, “We’re accustomed to this now, and it’s working out great!”

My Dentist Noticed Something Tiny…

A short time later – wearing a similar mask and gown as the hygienist – my dentist greeted me warmly. His banter was muffled as he shared with me how things were going with the expanded protocol. “It’s all about adjusting to the new way dentists have to work. And we’re adjusting just fine,” he remarked as his stainless steel tools probed my gaping mouth. I grunted. He understood and – I presume – smiled. He also suggested I come back in three months. There was a tiny spot on a molar that he wanted to follow up on.

That Special Feeling… When You Leave Your Dentist

As I left the examination room, employees were already scurrying in with disinfectants. The secretary (who also wore a mask), never touched my credit card as I paid for the visit. While I walked toward my car, I felt reassured and confident. Everything to protect my safety had been carried out professionally. And I felt something else. You know… the thing you do when you’ve just been to the dentist?

Yep… I brushed my tongue against the back of my front teeth. The feeling of crispclean, incisors – is something, I’d almost forgotten. You might want to visit your dentist and remind yourself, what it feels like.