Frequently asked questions about orthodontic treatment during the COVID-19 crisis
|With the COVID-19 situation changing daily, you may have questions regarding how social distancing and self-isolation might affect your orthodontic treatment, especially if the country goes into lockdown.
All orthodontists are carefully monitoring the advice and recommendations of local and national health authorities. At this stage there is no blanket rule for complete closure. Many are choosing to limit the procedures and appointments they are undertaking, while others will be closing completely until further notice. Please reach out to your orthodontist to understand their changing policies.
We’ve spoken to specialist orthodontists across Australia to give you the most up-to-date information about how COVID-19 will impact your treatment in the event of complete practice closure. Here is what they had to say.
How long could my orthodontic clinic be closed for?
We’re all in this together. Like you, we are following the advice of the government and local health authorities which may mean closing our doors for a while. Unfortunately, this means that we are not closing for a set period of time, but will be opening our doors to treat patients when it is in the best interests of the general population. Each state may have different recommendations due to the differing nature of the outbreak in local areas. We will all be doing our part to flatten the curve and reduce the spread of COVID-19 to help us keep our staff members, patients and local community safe. It is best to stay in touch with your orthodontist through email or social media so you can be alerted to when they’re able to reopen.
Will closed orthodontic clinics delay my treatment?
Your orthodontist will do everything they can to keep your treatment on track. While there may be a slight prolonging of treatment, your overall orthodontic journey should not be disrupted too much, provided patients look after their appliance and follow the instructions of their orthodontist. This means avoiding hard lollies, brushing your teeth after every meal and following your orthodontist’s directions and advice. Reach out to your orthodontist if you have any specific questions or concerns.
What are elective procedures?
Elective procedures are defined as any procedure that does not involve treating a medical emergency to preserve life and can generally be scheduled in advance. This includes your regular orthodontic appointments and check-ins.
What happens if I can’t attend my orthodontic appointments?
Your regular orthodontic appointments are an important part of your orthodontic journey. However, entering the clinic may not be an option during these unusual circumstances. Don’t worry. You can still contact your orthodontist to seek their advice about specific issues or to check on the progress of your treatment. If you are concerned, your orthodontist may have additional services in place, such as a phone consultation, monitoring apps or video conferencing to check in on your treatment in this time.
What if I need a new aligner?
If you are completing clear aligner treatment and no longer require new aligners, it may be safe to reduce your final aligner wear to a retainer phase of 10-12 hours per day to ensure your teeth stay in position. Alternatively, if you are due to move on to a new aligner, your orthodontist may recommend wearing your current aligner for an extended period to passivate your treatment. In some cases, after telephone consultation or video conferencing, your orthodontist can mail the next few sets of aligners to you. It’s important to keep your aligners clean and only drink water while you are wearing them. Once the clinic reopens, your orthodontist will take new digital scans for your new aligners to ensure your treatment can continue smoothly.
What happens if there is an emergency?
In the event of an extreme emergency, such as injury or pain, please contact your treating orthodontist who should be able to provide advice and recommendations on how to resolve most orthodontic issues at home, such as a poking wire or ulcer. They will also be able to advise if there is an in-person alternative available at this time, if it is unavoidable.
Will I be able to have my braces removed during this time?
Although orthodontic procedures are generally safe for patients and clinical workers, even with hospital grade sterilisation and infection control protocols, removal of braces can still generate aerosols that contain biological materials such as viruses, therefore removal of your braces cannot be carried out during this time. However, if you keep up your oral hygiene and look after your smile, you will be able to remove your braces once it’s safe to reopen the clinic. Just be patient.
If my orthodontist is closed, how will I know when they re-open?
Every orthodontist is different. Whether it’s a Facebook announcement, email or phone call, your orthodontist will let you know when their doors re-open and you can recommence your orthodontic treatment safely. So, stay in contact.
While there is a lot of uncertainty right now, one thing is for sure – Your orthodontist is looking forward to seeing you in the clinic soon.
Stay safe, and don’t take any unnecessary risks during this time.
Remember, while your treatment may be prolonged due to the coronavirus policies in place, but overall, your treatment will not be disrupted too much, provided that patients look after their appliance and follow their orthodontist’s advice.