DENTISTING DURING CORONAVIRUS Part 5: Interview with Dr. Jason Auerbach

In this new series, we’ll be asking questions and getting first-person perspectives on what it’s like so far to practice amid the pandemic. Every region, every practice, every practitioner has unique stores so we’re chronicling them here to give you an up-close and personal look at challenges, solutions and inspiring moments across the country.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon Dr. Jason Auerbach, otherwise known as @BloodyToothGuy to his nearly 130,000 Instagram followers, built Riverside Oral Surgery from the ground up. Starting with one practice, Dr. Auerbach now has four practices across multiple New Jersey counties. After graduating with honors from New York University College of Dentistry and completing a residency at SUNY-Downstate Medical Center, Dr. Auerbach committed himself to providing, in his own words, “with uncompromised care in an unparalleled setting.” He is a regular on New Jersey magazine’s annual list of Top Dentists. He is an Incisal Edge 40 Under 40 alum and his Englewood location was also featured in the magazine.

Q: When did you reopen your practice?

A: We never truly closed our practice. We were seeing emergencies throughout.

Q: What has been the biggest challenge so far?

A: The biggest challenge was deciding to furlough as many team members as I had to. I started my practice from zero with only one office and now we have four offices, 42 employees and six surgeons. Having to decide to furlough or lay off some of these people who I consider my family was probably the most emotionally difficult part. From a financial perspective, trying to figure out the financial side of things like how to navigate the legislation and the PPP was also difficult. Fortunately, we were okay with our PPE thanks to Benco.

Q: How have the changes in PPE affected your ability to practice?

A: Not really. In oral and maxillofacial surgery, we have been used to practicing with a ton of PPE because of our hospital experience. From the beginning, the biggest difference was figuring out the flow and teaching our team how to manage with PPE. It’s a different experience for us than for a general dentist or hygienist who is not used to gowning up and surgically working in a sterile field.

Q: How has the experience been with patients? Has it been difficult to encourage patients to come into the office?

A: Our patients have been looking forward to coming back, they want to get going and they’re looking at how and when they can get in. We’ve been very, very fortunate. Granted, there’s concern, but we’ve done a good job in terms of our protocols, procedures and implementing new technology. We know the patient is in the safest environment possible and we’re optimizing that whole side of our practice.

Q: Have you encountered any challenges with staff members?

A: There are childcare issues, younger employees who have young children have had trouble in terms of managing who’s taking care of them. As far as certain employees and team members having anxiety or fear about coming back, my practice has been at the forefront of practices in the area. We’ve been hosting live webinars with all kinds of experts in the field. The issue with my employees has been assuring them they are working in a safe environment and we are doing everything we can for them.

Q: Will dentistry ever return to what it was like pre-COVID? Should it? Or are the new precautions justified even in a world with a vaccine?

A: I think this will raise awareness for a lot of dentists who were a bit less cautious. Most of the people who are dentists now have been practicing only since universal precautions were established. What HIV, AIDS, and Hepatitis C did for bloodborne pathogen awareness and how we approach universal precautions, is what COVID-19 will do for awareness of airborne pathogens. This will bring a new standard for patient care and become our norm. We will all be aware of airborne pathogens in a way that we otherwise were not as dentists. As the years go on, we’ll better understand COVID, the pathogenesis, and what this specific coronavirus does. I think we will be in a situation where we will be able to handle it in a much better way. As long as you are protected and your team is protected and you’re taking into account what’s best for patients, yourself, your team and society at large, we’ll be alright.

Q: Your Instagram account has an international following. What did you think as you were watching the pandemic unfold in real time on social media, and was there any communication and collaboration between you and your followers?

A: I come at this from two different angles. My practice is looked to as a leader for guidance from all of these dentists and we are very honored and appreciative for that. I was listening to oral surgeons in Asia and Eastern Europe daily. I was talking to oral surgeons in Italy who were two or three weeks ahead of the United States. I was getting an understanding of what they were experiencing and I was assuming that we were going to experience the same things. Having international relationships allowed me to get in front of it here. I was very, very fortunate to leverage those friendships that have been formed on social media to help Riverside Oral Surgery. It allowed us to be ahead of the curve and allowed us to be progressive. We had aerosol management systems well before anyone even thought about it. We had air purification systems in place in the offices before anybody thought of it. We had sneeze guards in front of our reception areas before anyone thought of it. We were ready for this because I was talking to people who were going through it before I was. We really harnessed the power of social media. I was thankfully able to do that and it was a tremendous leg up and tremendous advantage.

Who Has The Power, The Followers, The Capital and The Biggest Ideas? Dentistry’s 32 Most Influential, That’s Who.

Incisal Edge magazine’s fourth annual rundown of our profession’s heaviest hitters has never been more fraught, because the industry has never faced anything quite like this pandemic.

From legislators to legends, international dentists to industry icons, Incisal Edge‘s 32 Most Influential People in Dentistry highlights the players who are shaping the future of the profession and industry. Some are new and emerging breakouts. Others are accomplished figures whose names you already know and whose relevance endures. You can debate and disagree with our choices, but one thing is certain: you can’t ignore them.

There’s one heavy hitter for every adult tooth—and each one is perfectly positioned to drive change. What have they done to make the list, and what have they set their sights on for the future? Plus, who are the contenders who narrowly missed our rankings, and who isn’t on this year’s list who made the cut last year?

Browse the complete summer 2020 issue of Incisal Edge to find out.

Or, read the feature on IncisalEdgeMagazine.com.

Tomorrow Is The Deadline To Be Part of AADR’s MIND The Future Initiative

According to ADA statistics, over 70% of practicing dentists in the United States are white. Recognizing the importance of creating and educating a more diverse group of dentists, The American Association for Dental Research (AADR) has been awarded a grant by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). 

The AADR Mentoring an Inclusive Network for a Diverse Workforce of the Future (AADR MIND the Future) program is seeking applicants from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. The network of mentors will support a “diverse pool of early-career investigators, including individuals from diverse backgrounds, in developing independent research careers dedicated to improving dental, oral, and craniofacial health,” according to the AADR.

How you can make a difference in the industry

After the application process closes on July 8th, ten participants and mentees will be chosen to commit at least 12 months of “intensive hands-on work, combining in-person sessions, with adjunctive distance-learning components.” 

Although only required to participate for one year, mentees will be strongly encouraged to extend their commitment to AADR MIND the Future program. The program will help mentor the next group of talented dentists while emphasizing the importance of diversity in the dental industry. 

For more information and to apply now, click here

DENTISTING DURING CORONAVIRUS Part 4: Interview with Dr. Lee Sheldon

In this new series, we’ll be asking questions and getting first-person perspectives on what it’s like so far to practice amid the pandemic. Every region, every practice, every practitioner has unique stories so we’re chronicling them here to give you an up-close and personal look at challenges, solutions and inspiring moments across the country.

Periodontist Dr. Lee Sheldon has been practicing for over three decades, so he has seen a lot of changes. An author and former associate clinical professor, he received his DMD from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, and his certificate in Periodontistry from the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine. His practice, Solid Bite, is located in Melbourne, Florida. His recent article on creating brand awareness for specialists uncovered some startling survey results and offered a plan for countering lack of awareness—timely help as dentistry reopens under complex circumstances. 

Q: When did you reopen your practice?

A: We found out on April 30th that we could reopen on May 4th, but we really didn’t reopen our practice on that date. During the previous few weeks, we started to look at PPE and how we could refigure our practice to make it satisfying to both our staff and patients. We bought some equipment and some PPE. By May 4th and May 5th, we were writing, drilling, and rehearsing our new protocols. I started by giving about a half-hour PowerPoint lecture as soon as we got there on May 4th to let the staff know what we’re doing to make it safe. On Monday and Tuesday, we did not see one patient; we just rehearsed and got comfortable with the protocols. On Wednesday, we saw about half the normal patient load, same on Thursday and Friday. Usually, when you’re putting in protocols in an office, you’re doing it one at a time. But here, we are putting in seven or eight new protocols all at once, so we had to go slowly to do that effectively. By the time we were done on Friday, everybody was really comfortable. On Monday, May 4th, we told patients we were open and the phone started ringing off the hook. From May 11th on, we’ve been going gangbusters—every single day, every single week with a ton of new patients. Even with a slow first week, we had a fabulous May.

Q: What has been the biggest challenge so far?

A: For us, the biggest challenge was deciding what equipment we needed in order to feel like we have everything we need to protect our patients and staff. We have a reception room that holds eight people, but to socially distance correctly, we can only have three people in the room at one time. So they wait in the car until we have the ability to allow three people in the reception room or until we’re ready for their appointment. There was a little bit of difficulty initially doing the histories and taking temperatures. It’s an additional step, but once you’re used to the step, that’s just the way it is.

Q: How have the changes in PPE affected your ability to practice?

A: In general, I think there’s a lot more sweating going on. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get any gowns that were light weight and we had to order food service gowns, which are much heavier. We’re able to get some lighter gowns now so we’re going to throw the heavier ones away and start over. It’s more difficult to breathe in face shields and people are sweating but not to the point where the staff is complaining. You look at it in two ways: mild discomfort versus safety. Even the CDC guidelines don’t say you have to change gowns between every patient, but we’re changing our gowns between every patient. The difficulty was mostly in the planning, but we took the necessary steps to make sure that was done correctly so we can practice the way we need to practice.

Q: How has the experience been with patients? Has it been difficult to encourage patients to come into the office?

A: Almost no difficulty. There were a few patients who told us they’re putting off their visits for a month or two. The steps we took allowed us to see our patients with the same frequency, even in hygiene. The hygienists told us they didn’t need any more time between patients than they were taking already.

Q: Have you encountered any challenges with staff members?

A: No, and I thought we would. Two staff members arrived for that initial lecture and were a little bit reluctant, but once they saw what we were doing and were comfortable, they had no reluctance at all. I think it made everybody feel better. 

Q: Will dentistry ever return to what it was like pre-Covid? Should it? Or are the new precautions justified even in a world with a vaccine?

A: First of all, I don’t think we’re ever going to have a vaccine. We’ve never been successful with a flu vaccine; this will not be any different. We already have a feeling that the virus is going to survive. The virus wants to survive, it’s not killing off as many people as it was before. If the virus is changing, I can’t imagine we’re going to have vaccines that kill every mutation. Do I think it was appropriate to take the mitigation steps? I think it was long overdue. The last time we changed our protocols in dentistry was in 1986 after AIDS. To wait 34 years to change protocols was too long. Unfortunately, there is no standard protocol. We’re doing things that other people aren’t doing and other people are doing things that we’re not doing. We don’t know what is ultimately going to be correct, but increasing the discipline to decrease the possibility of infection and viral contamination is a good thing. Does it cost a little bit more money? Yes. Are we charging our patients $12 for procedures that use aerosols? Yes. We have gotten no squawking from patients when I tell them it’s an additional $12 fee for the particular visit. I think whenever you can put in some disciplines, it makes it safer for the staff. It makes it safer for the patient. I think it was a good thing. I wish we didn’t have this excuse to do it but I’m happy we did.

DENTISTING DURING CORONAVIRUS Part 3: Interview with Dr. Betsy Carmack

In our third installment of this new series, we’ll be asking questions and getting first-person perspectives on what it’s like so far to practice amid the pandemic. Every region, every practice, every practitioner has unique stories so we’re chronicling them here to give you an up-close and personal look at challenges, solutions and inspiring moments across the country.

Dr. Betsy Carmack is one half of a husband-wife dental team along with Dr. Tyler Carmack. The dynamic duo from Bennington Dental Center (and three other office locations) in Vermont are also current members of Incisal Edge magazine’s 40 Under 40 spotlighting the best, most innovative, most interesting young dentists in America. She’s also a mother of three, champion bodybuilder, and former International Medical Missions Coordinator for Operation Smile.

Q: When did you reopen your practice?

A: Officially, we opened in June. We did see emergencies throughout the period, but we weren’t officially open until June 1.

Q: What has been the biggest challenge so far?

A: Educating ourselves on the new recommendations and protocols, figuring out how to implement them, and coming up with a new protocol manual was challenging for us. I wrote a whole new, 10-page manual that encompassed the new guidelines. Trying to ascertain and find supplies that were not counterfeit was extremely difficult. It took a lot of strategic networking to order things with the hope they would arrive on time. It almost felt like a game show. It took a lot of resources and reading and things are still changing. One week, a circumstance could be okay and then the next week things could change. It’s like ‘Survivor.’ Some situations would change and you have to adapt to the new situation.

Q: How have the changes in PPE affected your ability to practice?

A: It’s been a learning process and a learning curve with the new material. It’s like training for the army…you have to wear all the gear and the uniform and you start running the race. It’s very heavy and hard to breathe. You have a full headlamp, you have your loupes, you have your shield on top of that. We have air filtration units for each operatory as well so you’re shouting through the mask and the shield and the air filtration unit through the suction to the patients hoping they can hear you. We have started doing virtual consultations as an additive to patient communication. It’s more difficult now to have meaningful conversations when you can’t hear or understand or see the doctor. It can be challenging when you have all the PPE on to convey different options to patients.

Q: How has the experience been with patients? Has it been difficult to encourage patients to come into the office?

A: I have found that most patients are eager to come back to routine care. A lot of patients were hesitant to reach out earlier during Covid in fear that they were not in pain. It wasn’t a dental emergency, but it was still a bother to them. Things are going to ebb and flow, but the majority of patients are happy to be back. I don’t sense a huge fear factor. Being in rural Vermont, the caseload is extremely low, and the patient is very safe in terms of what we’ve put in place as protective for patients and staff.

Q: Have you encountered any challenges with staff members?

A: Honestly, I think there was an underlying anxiety everyone felt from what the news publicized. Going into any new challenge is going to be intimidating when you are not used to something, but our staff has really been fantastic. After the first week, they settled in very well. You get headaches, it’s hard to breathe, your personal comfort is not as high as it was prior to Covid but luckily, all of our staff really like what they do. They miss the patient and personal interaction and they’ve been excited to come back.

Q: Will dentistry ever return to what it was like pre-Covid? Should it? Or are the new precautions justified even in a world with a vaccine?

A: I don’t foresee this ending or the regulations changing in the near future. The standard of care in dentistry has always included advanced infection control regulations and if anything, COVID has given dentistry the opportunity to revisit those guidelines. We all joke “I feel safer at work than going to the grocery store” because we’re screening patients, we do temperature checks, we’re allowed to question them and we have full protective gear on. I think it might be the new normal. Dentists fall into this interesting category where we can’t make any other income. A lot of dentists have reached a certain point and they said, I’ve been building my practice my whole life and rather than lose my home and my whole life I would rather start working again. The risks for young dentists are much lower and we’re not going to lose our livelihoods over that.

Second Time Around For The Families First Act

Now that practices are getting back to work, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act is once again relevant and deserving of a reexamination to find out exactly what it means for your practice. Most dental practices were forced to shut down prior to the FFCRA going into effect, so many have not had to comply with this new rule until now. It’s likely some offices have employees who qualify for paid sick leave under the terms of this act, and Benco Dental’s financial planning partners at Cain Watters & Associates are here to help offer clarity and direction to owners who may find themselves impacted. Let’s start with a refresher.

What It Is, How It Works

Beginning in early March, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division enacted the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Effective through December 31, 2020, the legislation outlines new requirements for paid leave for both employers and employees.

The FFCRA details that employees are entitled to paid sick leave if experiencing issues related to Covid-19. An employee is eligible for up to two weeks (80 hours) of paid leave at the regular rate of pay or the applicable minimum wage (whichever is higher) when quarantining per order of government or health care provider or when seeking a medical diagnosis for Covid-19 symptoms.

If an employee is unable to work out of a need to care for an ill individual that has been quarantined or to care for a child (under 18 years old) whose school is closed or childcare provider is inaccessible due to Covid-19; the employee qualifies for paid sick leave at two-thirds the regular rate of pay. Employees experiencing extended issues related to childcare can receive an additional 10-week paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds pay or two-thirds the applicable minimum wage (whichever is higher). However, businesses smaller than 50 employees may be exempt from providing leave due to school closings or childcare if the leave would “jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.”

Employer Credit

Aside from paid sick leave, the FFCRA provides a refundable credit to employers who are required to pay out either qualifying sick pay or leave pay.  The credits taken on the federal quarterly payroll tax returns are dollar-for-dollar and correspond with the paid leave requirements.

Exemptions

In most situations, under the leave pay rules (FMLEA), a small business is exempt from certain paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave requirements if the employer employs fewer than 50 employees. Practices under 50 employees should claim this exemption, as requiring to pay leave pay for 10 weeks would materially impact practice operations and financial health, according to Cain Watters. However, note that some practices under 50 employees would still not likely qualify for the exemption – and that’s when you especially need expert advice.

Webinar: PPPFA and PPCRA Strategies For Business Owners

If this sounds like it’s getting complicated fast, relax. Cain Watters has a free webinar that helps break down all of this to help you navigate the rules and maximize loan forgiveness, including:

• Changes with the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act

• HR issues with doctor or employee Covid-19 diagnosis

• Application of the Family First Coronavirus Response Act with reopening

Watch it here, or visit Cain Watters & Associates for this and even more helpful resources.

DENTISTING DURING CORONAVIRUS Part 2: Interview with Dr. Dave Monokian

In our second installment of this new series, we’ll be asking questions and getting first-person perspectives on what it’s like so far to practice amid the pandemic. Every region, every practice, every practitioner has unique stories so we’re chronicling them here to give you an up-close and personal look at challenges, solutions and inspiring moments across the country.

Dr. Dave Monokian, or “Dr. Dave” to his patients, has been surrounded by dentistry his entire life. In 2005, he became a partner and cosmetic dentist at Monokian Family & Cosmetic Dentistry with locations in Marlton and Haddonfield, New Jersey. Dr. Monokian graduated from New York University College of Dentistry and now serves as the President of the Southern Dental Society of New Jersey.

Q: When did you reopen your practice?

A: We officially closed down Monday, March 16th and we opened Tuesday, June 2nd.

Q: What has been the biggest challenge so far?

A: Prior to closing, we had a full schedule between dentists and hygienists. We had to cancel those appointments for the three months we were closed. When we opened again, there were emergency patients who called and the people who had appointments cancelled from March that wanted to reschedule on top of people who had scheduled six months before June. There just aren’t enough hours in the day or days in the week to see every patient. Making sure we’re staying equipped and have all of the right equipment for all of our employees despite the nationwide PPE shortage has been a huge challenge. And just coordinating the schedule — we can’t see nearly as many patients as we used to because of social distancing, trying to stagger appointment times and extending time for appointments to sterilize and disinfect the rooms. I would say those were some of the more significant challenges

Q: How have the changes in PPE affected your ability to practice?

A: It’s something that’s taking some time to get used to because we have to wear extra things and we’re changing things out more regularly now. It just affects the total number of patients we can see per day. It’s affected the overall production, revenue and number of patients we can treat.

Q: How has the experience been with patients? Has it been difficult to encourage patients to come into the office?

A: Even before the pandemic, we took a lot of pride in our infection control which has earned us a lot of loyal patients over the years. When all of this happened, we started on the process early. The day after we closed, I was on the phone trying to order things to stay ahead of the game. People definitely had questions but when we were closed we stayed in constant communication with our patients, sending emails and different types of correspondences. This was great to let them know the things we were doing and implementing in the practice to prepare them prior to coming into the office. The environment is definitely different with taking temperatures, asking various screening questions, things like that. Most of our patients trust that we’re doing the right thing because they’ve been with us for so long.

Q: Have you encountered any challenges with staff members?

A: They’re very supportive of what we’re doing and trying to lend a helping hand when they can. They had their questions about how we would do things and sometimes it’s a bit of trial and error as to how things go but they’ve been great. Our staff has really stepped up to help get everything reorganized and implement all of the new infection control. Dividing the team up to tackle certain areas helped a lot. We have team members that have been with us for a long time and they take pride in being a part of something special.

Q: Will dentistry ever return to what it was like pre-COVID? Should it? Or are the new precautions justified even in a world with a vaccine?

A: It’s probably always going to be how it is now. I remember when my father first started practicing and the AIDS epidemic hit. Before that, dentists weren’t wearing gloves or masks or much of anything; there was a new normal then. The biggest thing will be when we can finally get full PPE back in place and can get fully stocked with at least a month’s supply. Right now, we’re wearing two masks. Eventually, we’ll probably just go to one N95 mask. Our office put certain things in place that we intend on keeping. It’s all justified because you never know what else is around the corner. I don’t think you can ever be too cautious. You can screen and take medical histories, but there’s still a lot of hidden stuff out there. Vaccines give you more peace of mind but vaccines aren’t the be-all and end-all either. It’s difficult because it’s a complete unknown, but we’re in an industry working very close to people’s mouths with a lot of aerosols being created and a lot of potential to transmit something. The more caution, the better.

Zirconia Perfection, All In One Product Line

Dental Creations, the Texas-based, family-owned and operated manufacturing business, has released a brand-new line of zirconia products.

Stronger than porcelain, zirconia crowns have a five-year survival rate of 99%. Between the new Zir-Perfect zirconia disc, Z-tray, and Z-Beads, Dental Creations covers dentists with high-quality products that provide patients with long-lasting results.

The unique Z-Tray Vented Sintering Tray comes in two sizes and protects while sintering crowns, bridges, inlays, onlays, and veneers. Holes on the side provide better airflow and transfer of heat while sintering, which keeps restorations at the proper temperature. The dense, round, covered tray prevents unwanted condensation and discoloring of the zirconia by the heating elements. It can withstand high heat rates for zirconia in temperatures up to 1700° C, as well as slower heating rates for long-span bridgework.

Pair the Z-Tray with a jar of Z-Beads Zirconia Sintering Beads for the best results. Because the Z-Tray and the Z-Beads heat at different temperature rates, the beads absorb the heat and provide a controlled temperature to prevent shrinkage. Like the tray, the beads can endure temperatures up to 1700° C. Made of high purity zirconia, the beads produce clean, contamination-free restorations.

The last item needed to complete your zirconia system, the Zir-Perfect High Translucent CAD/CAM Zirconia Disc, uses a three-point flexural strength of 1200 Mpa and a natural translucency of 43%. Offered in nine different shades, including white to use with dip stains, the Zir-Perfect can help you deliver restorations that are natural, long-lasting restoration and functions like a real tooth.

DENTISTING DURING CORONAVIRUS Part 1: Interview with Dr. Robert Lalor

In the first installment of this new series, we’ll be asking questions and getting first-person perspectives on what it’s like so far to practice amid the pandemic. Every region, every practice, every practitioner has unique stories so we’re chronicling them here to give you an up-close and personal look at challenges, solutions and inspiring moments across the country.

“Dr. Bob,” as his patients fondly call him, joined the practice his father founded in 2001 and has expanded throughout the southern tier of New York state. Lalor Family Dental now has four practices including the Lalor Implant Center and Dinosaur Dental, which serves pediatric patients only. Dr. Lalor graduated cum laude from the University of Buffalo with a degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery in 2000.

Q: When did you reopen your practice?

A: We never closed all of our offices and I’m proud of that. We had four practices and we consolidated it down to two that were open five or six days a week just seeing emergencies. In some ways, that was great because we had an opportunity to learn and implement new systems as they were being spat out to us and started to learn more about the virus.

Q: What has been the biggest challenge so far?

A: Lack of clarity, lack of clear guidelines that make common sense, and availability of PPE. Because it’s so difficult to get everything that we need or would like, we’re trying to make things last longer. But then you wonder, “Am I skirting the line here? Is this the best I can do for my team? Is there something I could do better? Are there materials I could get better?” I would rather have everything perfect but that’s a little tricky right now. The mixed bag of information that some people are getting online or through other sources are telling part of the story but maybe not the whole story. I’m definitely over-communicating and trying to look at issues from the perspective of the hygienist as best that I can and try to make sure that we mitigate any sort of risk of mistrust there.

Q: Have the changes in PPE affected your ability to practice?

A: Not in the ability to practice, but in materials. New York’s rules state there need to be 15 minutes after a patient is done before the next one can come into the operatory. That is going to affect our scheduling. We’ll figure out how that goes. We do have larger operatories so that shouldn’t impact us as much as the person who has only one or two operatories. We’ll work around that as best we can and make sure we comply with all regulations and turn over patients as fast as possible.

Q: How has the experience been with patients? Has it been difficult to encourage them to come into the office?

A: The patients who needed to come in were enthusiastic and excited that we were open. We send a ‘How was your visit’ type survey after a typical appointment, but we changed that during COVID to ‘How safe did you feel? How did you feel we did? Did you feel like there is anything we could improve as far as safety protocols?’ We thought that would mean more to people at this time than how we did on their filling. We got a lot of feedback from that, most of it not helpful because it was so positive. It gave us an understanding that the patient thought we were doing a good job. We tried to implement changes early and quickly.

Q: How do you plan on encouraging patients to return and continue their usual care?

A: Luckily, we have high demand, so we continue to use that as a strength, and we’ve kept lists of patients to reach out to get them into the office. Zero pressure on our side, more of ‘if you want to come in great, we will get you in and if you don’t want to come in yet, we can schedule you in a few weeks or whenever you want.’ We’re also extending our hours more than ever to allow for more opportunities for patients to come in. We are now a less busy office, but with more hours.

Q: Have you encountered any challenges with staff members?

A: A few people had some reluctance coming back, and we’ve lost a few who have decided to get out of the dentistry field which is fine. The dentists, the hygienists, they’re committed and still in the field for good. We have a core group of team members that were willing to stick around so my hat goes off to them for being willing to stay and work, putting themselves in harm’s way.

Q: Will dentistry ever return to what it was like pre-COVID? Should it? Or are the new precautions justified, even in a world with a vaccine?

A: My belief is that it will be a lot closer to what it was before. I think there will be some realization as to what studies need to be done to better show who is at risk and what legitimate risks we are exposing ourselves to. There needs to be a universal precaution method that works regardless of the disease. Dentistry has not been a hotbed for cases or the center for a lot of controversy, so I believe that the precautions we have taken and the industry as a whole are probably pretty safe. My assumption is that it’s more difficult than we think to get COVID in a dental environment and following the precautions that have led us to this point are going to be sufficient. Social distancing would be to be the biggest effect—the inability to meet people face to face, maskless, socialize, etc. That is the part that is going to hurt more than what we have to wear while treating patients.

A BREATH OF FRESH (AND CLEAN!) AIR

 

Vaniman, a United States manufacturer with over 30 years of air filtration experience, has designed a brand-new line of air purifiers built around the needs of dentists and patients. The Pure Breeze HEPA system features fast, 99% removal efficiency of particles and dangerous aerosols including viruses, chemical odors, and more. It’s available in portable and fume hood versions depending on your individual needs.

 

The Pure Breeze HEPA Air Purifier portable scrubs the air of dust, chemicals, and biological hazards. This laboratory grade HEPA air cleaner is extremely quiet and ideal for many different air filtration applications. It uses a four-stage filtration system for maximum effectiveness. This unit is half the price and size of comparable industrial air purifiers, and is made is USA.

 

This quiet system filters clean air from the top vent forcing airborne contaminants down to the lower vent and does so with three different exchange rate speeds. The mobile system minimizes downtime between patients and maximizes the protection of patients and staff.

 

Watch it in action here, and contact your Friendly Benco Rep for a personalized consultation or call 1.800.GO.BENCO.