COVID-19

LETTERS FROM DR. KEIKO WADA AND TEAM OPALESQUE
To Our Valued Patients

November 15, 2020

Round 2 for Phase 2 in Pierce County: How does this affect dental offices?
NEW RESTRICTIONS DON'T LIMIT DENTAL CARE

WSDA has received direct confirmation from the Governor’s Office that the restrictions announced today* do NOT place any new limits on dental care or health care delivery more broadly.

Several months have passed since our last newsletter, which announced new Covid-related office protocols. Since our reopening and Governor Inslee's announcement on November 15, protocols have not changed dramatically from the ADA, CDC, or Washington State DOH. The heavy emphasis for the dental office continues to be patient and staff screening, social distancing, and wearing masks at all times while in the office with others. We continue to limit the total number of patients in the office at coordinated times to safeguard patients and team members (and adhere to social distancing). We are grateful that our dental supplier, Burkhart Dental Supply, has been responsibly keeping us (and many other dental offices) stocked with PPE and sterilization products. Our HEPA air filters by IQair have been receiving accolades from a variety of sources for their high quality and effectiveness.

Our own health and responsibility to each other, our families, and our patients are also important to all of us at Opalesque Dentistry. We have limited unnecessary travel and large social gatherings, we are committed to wearing masks in all public places and maintain healthy lifestyles. Our commitment to adhering to state restrictions reflects our beliefs in being responsible for the health of others.

In light and in support of the measures we take at Opalesque, a recent study that dental facilities have remained resistant to Covid 19 outbreaks has been released. The American Dental Association Science and Research Institute and Health Policy Institute just published results from a nationwide survey of dental offices concluding that “Covid-19 rate among dentists is less than 1%”. Chief economist and vice president of the ADA Health Policy Institute, Marko Vujicic, Ph.D., said:  "The fact that dentistry was named one of the most at-risk professions for infection, but has a far lower prevalence of infection compared to other health professions, is not a coincidence. The profession has taken this issue extremely seriously, and it shows. We will continue to track the rate of COVID-19 among dentists and other facets of the pandemic affecting dentistry so it can help inform the dental profession and other industries as well.”** 

For every single one of us, this has been a very difficult year. The second announcement of Phase 2 restrictions has taken an emotional toll on everyone, especially at the beginning of holiday festivities. We at Opalesque wish all of you a safe, healthy, and peaceful holiday season.

 

* November 15, 2020
**JADA published report from ADA Science & Research Institute, Health Policy Institute October 15, 2020,

 


August 3, 2020

Happy summer!

What a year this has been. We at Opalesque Dentistry are grateful to be back at the office following Covid closure from March to May. We are working hard getting many of you back on schedule. Thanks to everyone for your patience and understanding as we move from life before Covid to life with Covid.  

We would like to share with you our new protocols we have implemented to reduce the risk of cross-infection.  The changes you will notice are:

 

Checking In

1). We ask that you wear a face mask/covering upon entering the office. 

2). The reception area is available only to guests who are unable to wait in their vehicle.

3). If you have a cell phone, we request that you wait in your vehicle for your appointment Upon arrival to the office, please call reception at 253-858-8158, and you will be called back for your appointment.  This maintains the required social distancing.

4). If you need to directly speak with reception or have forms to deliver, please call reception and they will call you back when available to assist you. 5. Prior to being seen for your appointment, the reception will review Covid screening questions to confirm you are feeling well on the day of treatment. 6.) You will be escorted to a hand sanitation station and your temperature will be taken.

 

Your Appointment

1). Once seated, your BP will be taken and health history review.  This is to ensure that you are not at high risk for COVID infection and that you feel comfortable proceeding with treatment.

2). Appropriate and recommended personal protective equipment will be worn by the doctor, hygiene, and assistant and will be removed before exiting the room.

3). Face masks are worn by the team in the office at all times

4). HEPA air filters will be continuously running to filter the air of microscopic particles, including noxious gases and viruses. Checking out 1.) Please wear your mask after your appointment while in the office. For Your Peace Of Mind, more time is taken to sterilize rooms between patient visits using CDC approved anti-Covid disinfectants. All team members wear face masks while in the office, are screened prior to work, and have temperatures taken. This is to ensure that a team member hasn’t been exposed to any person with Covid, doesn’t feel feverish, and has a normal temperature.

*Please note that as of June 26th Governor Inslee announced mandatory face coverings for indoor and outdoor public spaces.  Opalesque Dentistry has been proactive in instigating the continual new Covid prevention regulations as soon as possible.  If you had noticed no employee face coverings outside of our treatment rooms in the recent past, rest assured that it is currently our strict policy to wear face coverings at all times within treatment rooms and in the office.  If at any time you have questions regarding our infection control policies or adherence to State regulations, please know that we are all open to your concerns.  Thank you in advance.

 

Welcome to Opalesque Dentistry’s New Front Office Team

Opalesque Dental Team is fortunate to have a fabulous new office administration duo.  We were grateful to have Jeni and Sarah take care of our valued patients for over 35 years in total. They have retired and moved, respectively, and are happy in their new lives.

Our new front office administration has worked hard to streamline administrative processes to allow for smooth and efficient patient care from the time you arrive to the time you leave.

Jill brings to the administration 29 years of dental insurance billing and collecting experience, office start-up experience, and the same amount of years managing administrative teams in dental practices.

Ashley moved into the office administrative position after 6 years of dental assisting in our practice. With her clinical skills and attention to detail, she is managing complex treatment cases, corresponding with specialists, and communicating with patients about dental treatment. Working together, they have brought our office administration services to a new level of streamlined and attentive care.

Please welcome Jill and Ashley.  They have enjoyed getting to know you and are very open to hearing how they can improve your experience with them.  

 

June 11, 2020

Dr. Wada and team Opalesque are excited to be back doing dentistry and taking care of their valued patients.  

During the previous two months of closure, Dr. Wada and her team devoted much time to updating and anticipating changes in once protocol related to COVID-19.  Just before opening the practice, a day was spent ‘'rehearsing'’ the new office protocol, reviewing updated sterilization techniques, and confirming PPE fit and usage.    

Now a month into our reopen, we are getting comfortable with the extra precautions we have taken to mitigate cross-infection. As a result of the changes, we have realized some positive outcomes from the “new normal."

We appreciate the benefits of:

1). Allocating more time for patient visits to disinfect operatories, properly prescreen patients, and maintain social distance. This has allowed Dr. Wada and the team to have more time to ensure patient comfort during treatment and provide detailed dentistry.  

2). Extra time between patient appointments to assist in the transition of new office protocols which has created an environment of teamwork.

We are aware that extra time allocated to new office protocols impacts the number of patients seen in a day. Rest assured, a list of all patients canceled during the closure will be contacted in the next few weeks to reschedule.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any concerns or want to reschedule prior to our contacting you.  

 

May 20, 2020

Opalesque Dentistry is open for non-emergency care now.  

We have taken measures to provide the utmost in safety to keep patients and ourselves healthy as we navigate through the Covid-19 pandemic. On May 18th Governor Inslee allowed “….dental practitioners and practices to provide non-urgent health care services….if the practitioners and practice act in good faith and with reasonable clinical judgment to meet specific criteria.” See our Blog for “What are the criteria?”

Dr. Wada and Team Opalesque are excited to be back doing what we love doing.  We are all looking forward to seeing you. To schedule a regular dental appointment or you if have an emergency situation, we are available to assist you. Please call our office or book online.

 

May 13, 2020

Phase One reopening of Opalesque Dentistry is occurring on May 19th!

Opalesque Dentistry will start seeing patients based on Phase One guidelines.

What does this mean?

To be succinct, this means Dr. Wada and team Opalesque can treat patients if they require emergent care and maintain social distancing. The office protocol must meet CDC/ADA and WSDA infection control guidelines and maintain appropriate stores of approved PPE.

How is ‘emergent’ care defined?

Governor Inslee’s interim statement defines ‘emergent’ care as treatment rendered that if not addressed will progress in the next 3 months and cause harm to the patient. Inslee has left the decision of ‘harm’ up to the dentist. The decision to treat is based on the risks versus benefits of dental treatment relative to the patient’s overall health condition. See Dr. Wada’s Blog to learn more about what she and team Opalesque have done to ensure necessary and safe dental care.

 

April 29, 2020

It’s officially been just passed a month since Governor Inslee mandated “Shelter in, stay at home”. Broadcast news, webinars, podcasts, and social media are starting to discuss the toll this mandate is having on our mental health. In NPR’s piece on “Covid 19 Crisis Takes A Toll On Americans’ Mental Health”, Harvard psychiatrist, Roy Perlis talks about not only the Covid-19 curve but also the fall out curve from the Pandemic:

“The first curve was the pandemic itself. But I’m concerned the second curve that we need to flatten is the consequences of the pandemic in terms of the psychiatric fallout, which I think could be substantial.”

The stresses of social distancing, work closure, and unemployment, staying at home (whether it’s a stable environment or not), financial concerns, and uncertainty for the near future are just some of the pressures we are all dealing with.

For more serious signs of depression and anxiety, your primary care physician and local hospitals provide Telehealth or Telemedicine access for virtual consultations. Local hospitals also have phone helplines.

Dr. Wada and Team Opalesque are concerned about the effects of this pandemic from not only a dental perspective but from a personal perspective built over the many years of our relationships with all of you.

To prevent spiraling downward, Dr. Wada and her team discussed how we were all feeling and what we do every day to keep us on the upward spiral. We realized that it’s the things we have time to do now, that we didn’t before, that influence our sense of accomplishment and joy. Each of us shared some of the things we have been doing to keep us moving forward. Check out our ‘motivators’ on our Blog: Shelter-in-Cooking.

Wishing you all overall good health, Dr. Wada and Team Opalesque

 

April 27, 2020

We hope the letter finds you and your family in good health. Our community has been through a lot over the last few months and all of us are looking forward to resuming our normal habits and routines. While many things have changed, one thing has remained the same: Our commitment to your safety.

Infection control has always been a top priority for our Practice and you may have seen this during your visits to our office. Our infection control processes are made so that when you receive care, it is both safe and comfortable. We want to tell you about the infection control procedures we follow in our Practice to keep patients and staff safe.

Our office follows infection control recommendations made by the American Dental Association (ADA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration {OSHA). We follow the activities of these agencies so that we are up-to-date on any new rulings or guidance that may be issued. We do this to make sure that our infection control procedures are current and adhere to each agencies' recommendations.

You may see some changes when it is time for your next appointment. We made these changes to help protect our patients and staff. For example:

  • Our office will communicate with you beforehand to ask some screening questions. You will be asked those same questions again when you are in the office.
  • Due to COVID-19, the American Dental Association (ADA) also requires patients to fill-out the Patient Screening Form prior to treatment. 
  • We have hand sanitizer that we will ask you to use when you enter the office. You will also find some in the reception area and other places throughout the office for you to use as needed.
  • You will see that our reception area will no longer have magazines, children's toys, and so forth since those items are difficult to clean and disinfect.
  • Appointments will be managed to all for social distancing between patients. That might mean you are offered fewer options for scheduling your appointment.
  • We will do our best to allow greater time between patients to reduce waiting times for you, as well as to reduce the number of patients in the reception area at one time.
  • We will recommend waiting in your car until we call/text you that we are ready to see you. If you are dropped off, it is our goal to have only one patient in the reception area at a time.

We look forward to seeing you again and are happy to answer any questions you may have about the steps we take to keep you, and every patient, safe in our Practice. To schedule your appointment, use the appointment request form, call 253-858-8158, or email us.

Thank you for being our patient. We value your trust and loyalty and look forward to welcoming back our patients, neighbors, and friends. 

 

April 20, 2020

We hope you are all doing well and staying healthy. We have been fortunate this past week to have bright sun-filled days. At our weekly Zoom staff meeting, I asked team Opalesque what they have been doing during these sunny days. Everyone has been outside walking, working in their yards and reading books in the sun.  When going for walks or bike rides myself, I notice many more people outside getting fresh air and exercise living healthier lifestyles.  

But what about everyone's dental health? Without being able to see our hygiene team on regular bases, everyone has an increased risk of gingivitis and periodontitis. We know the impact plaque and tartar build-up under the gums have on everyone's overall health. So important is the regular removal of excess plaque and tartar from beneath the gums that the ADA and AMA have collaborated to inform people of the proven risk of the bugs that live beneath your gums and the risk of heart disease.

Team Opalesque discussed this concern and our hygienists, Terrie and Natasha, collaborated to write a brief home protocol for patient use as a guideline for adjunctive care until the office reopens.  Here are Terrie and Natasha's suggestions:

Dear Patients,    

We hope this finds you well and safely at home! Due to our office closure, many of you will be past due for your cleaning appointments. As soon as we are able we will have you all back on track! In the meantime, now is a great time to take your home care to the next level! As patients, you are responsible for 80% of the prevention of periodontal diseases.      

You may notice more bleeding than normal. Don't worry about this. Keep brushing your teeth 2 to 3 times a day. Use floss or other tools you like to use to clean between your teeth. One of our favorite floss is Dr. Tungs Smart Floss, which is available on Amazon.    

Now would be a great time to consider purchasing a Waterpik Waterflosser if you currently aren't using one. They are proven to be very effective in clinical trials. It is recommended to use for 2 minutes, 3 seconds per tooth with emphasis along the gumline and between your teeth. Start on a low setting and increase as you get used to it. Warm water is recommended. Adding rinses such as hydrogen peroxide is ok. Follow with one cycle of plain water to flush the unit. Don't use rinses that contain dye.      

We normally recommend the following Waterflossers: The "Aquaris" is a countertop model. It has a larger water reservoir so you won't need to refill as often. The "Sidekick"  is a smaller compact countertop model, which is also great for traveling. Cordless "Freedom"  models are popular. They can be used in the shower to help cut back on messy overspray. Visit the Waterpik Oral Health website to find the right fit for your needs. There are also some great reviews from patients.    

Keeping your mouth healthy takes teamwork and we are here to help you achieve this! Please don't hesitate to call if you have any concerns. We look forward to being back to work and seeing your beautiful smiles!

Sincerely, Terrie and Natasha


We hope this information is helpful.  Dr. Wada is available for urgent care (emergency phone number available on office voice message) and Jill and Margot are available to answer phone calls Monday and Thursday 9-3.   Please contact Dr. Wada or Team Opalesque for any questions or concerns you may have during the office closure. We will keep you updated when Dental Offices in Washington State can reopen.  Currently, we have not heard new information regarding closure until May 18th.

 

DENTAL EMERGENCY AND APPOINTMENT INFORMATION

As you know, Governor Inslee mandated the closure of all dental offices for all elective procedures.  Currently, Dr. Wada and her team are able to treat dental emergencies only. Office reopening is constantly changing, with the most updated prediction being May 18th.

What is a dental emergency?
Dr. Wada is available for palliative treatment of any dental pain as defined by the ADA.  See “ADA: What constitutes a dental emergency”.

When will Dr. Wada’s office reopen? 
The ADA and WSDA will follow CDC recommendations and consider reopening date a month prior to the most recent projection of May 18th. This means by April 18th we should have more updated information as to whether the office can open sooner or later than May 18th. We will keep you informed digitally.

How do I get in touch with Dr. Wada or the office?
Dr. Wada is available at all times for emergency treatment.  The emergency contact number is on the office voice message at 253-858-8158. Office administrators are available on Monday and Thursday 9-3 to answer phone calls and manage the practice schedule as closure dates continue to be extended.

What about my next appointment?
If you have a scheduled appointment during office closure time. Dr. Wada or her administrative team will contact you to confirm the cancellation of your appointment. You will then be contacted to reschedule as we get closer to the confirmed date of reopening.  

Will there be any changes in infection control at my next appointment?
Dental offices have practiced universal precautions since the advent of HIV and Hepatitis. Since then all dental offices wear regulation standard face masks, eyewear, and laboratory jackets to protect workers and patients from cross-infection. All operatories are properly sterilized with antiviral/bacterial wipes. Dr. Wada anticipates further changes to be instituted to minimize cross-infection by aerosolization of the virus.  We assure you that we follow the ADA, WSDA, and CDC daily to observe any necessary changes in infection control protocol so we will be prepared when we reopen.  

 

 

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