What can dentists do
Many patients canceled their dentist appointments at the beginning of the epidemic, fearing a possible infection with the coronavirus. The private health insurance and representatives of the dentists have now called for dentist appointments not to be postponed any longer. We have heard about the corona risks and the special protective measures in dental practices Dr. Gonca Hassert, Dentist at the Association of Private Health Insurance (PKV), consultant for the outpatient service department.
Question: With the beginning of the corona pandemic, many patients canceled their dentist appointments. Is there a particularly high risk of infection in the dental practice?
Dr. Gonca Hassert: Anyone who goes to the dentist regularly knows that the dentist-patient contact usually takes place over a long period of time in a short distance, that is in the nature of things. In addition, work is carried out in the area that harbors particular risks of infection, as saliva and mucous membranes are affected.
For this reason, the strictest hygiene regulations were in place even before the pandemic, compliance with which is also regularly checked by the health authorities. There is hardly any other profession that already routinely uses surface and hand disinfection and where gloves, visors and mouth-nose protection are standard equipment.
According to current knowledge, treatments at the dentist did not contribute to an increased Covid 19 infection rate, neither for the treatment team nor for patients.
What hygiene measures did dentists take to respond to the risk of infection in order to protect their patients?
Basically, the hygiene regulations for dental practices are based on a hygiene plan. This is made available to the practices by the German Working Group for Hygiene in Dentistry (DAHZ) and the German Dental Association (BZÄK). The hygiene plan contains the recommendations of the Robert Koch Institute "Infection Prevention in Dentistry - Hygiene Requirements" and was only revised at the beginning of the year and adapted to the current requirements for infection protection.
These high hygiene and infection protection standards were reinforced again after the outbreak of the pandemic. The Institute of German Dentists (IDZ) and the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Dentists (KZBV) have drawn up specific recommendations for action for dental practices. In addition, a number of hygiene regulations are implemented in the practices to protect the health of patients and employees in order to prevent the transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
This includes, for example, the recommendation of a liquid-tight separation of the reception area and compliance with the recommended minimum distances - also between employees. During the entire treatment of the patient, glasses or a protective visor as well as mouth and nose protection, gloves and possibly a protective gown should be worn. During the treatment, special attention is paid to very good suction in order to keep aerosol formation as small as possible. In addition, signs in the practices indicate, for example, the mask and distance requirements, and hand spray disinfection is provided in the entrance and exit areas.
In the last few weeks, the situation regarding the procurement of personal protective equipment has improved significantly. There are currently no more supply bottlenecks, the practices are very well positioned.
The dental practices have adapted well to the new situation. Why should patients keep their dental appointments again?
Check-up appointments are particularly important in order to detect tooth decay, to prevent periodontal disease through regular, professional tooth cleaning or to detect serious diseases such as cancer in the oral cavity at an early stage. These treatments cannot and must not be postponed for a long period of time.
Private patients can now find the so-called hygiene flat rate on their dental bills. What is it about?
The corona pandemic made huge demands on dental practices, including when it comes to the procurement of protective material. In their joint advisory forum on the fee schedule for dentists (GOZ), the Association of Private Health Insurance and the German Dental Association had agreed with representatives of the aid to provide quick and unbureaucratic help in order to reimburse the significantly increased costs for protective clothing and hygiene expenses. Since April 8, 2020, dentists have been able to charge a corona hygiene flat rate of 14.23 euros for each session. This extra remuneration is in the form of the GOZ no. 3010 in analogous application and was initially valid until July 31, 2020. The advisory forum then decided to expand the Corona hygiene flat rate until September 30, 2020.
Addendum: The Corona hygiene flat rate was extended to 2020 - on adjusted terms. Dentists can use the GOZ no. 3010 settle in the same way as the simple rate. That is 6.19 euros per session.
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