What to expect during your next dental visit amid COVID-19

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Dentists in southeastern Pennsylvania can now do more procedures, including routine cleanings. However, you might not recognize the office when you go.

Dr. Snyder. I'm used to wearing cute outfits that were always machine washable, but now I'm wearing a scrub suit under a gown," said Dr. Beth Snyder.

Dr. Snyder now wears head-to-toe PPE, or personal protective equipment, for every patient.

"It's definitely a strange new experience to be wearing all this," she said.

But that's just part of the new routine. Every staffer puts on and takes off their uniform in an office locker room - no dressing at home.

There's new equipment too, such as special air cleaners. And the familiar hand mirror has been replaced by one with high-speed suction.

There will be germ-killers in ultrasonic cleaners, plus another suction device to capture oral droplets.

"It will actually be like a little elephant neck and it'll sit right below the patient's face," said Dr. Snyder.

Some specialty dentists have also installed negative pressure booths.

"You do a negative pressure because you don't want that air to get out of the room," said Dr. Snyder.

But these extra precautions can come with extra cost.

Most dentists are now raising their rates, or adding a PPE fee. However, your insurance plan may cover the cost.

Dr. Snyder says overall, patients have been understanding.

"They're relieved that they know that I'm carefully covered up and not spreading my germs to them," she said.

She says there's definitely a need to get back to dental care, even for non-emergencies.

Due to the stress of the pandemic, she's seeing a lot of broken and worn-down teeth from patients unknowingly clenching or grinding their teeth.
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