The dental clinic at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare is now open and seeing patients after being closed for three months as a precaution to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
The reopening is significant because oral disease is the top unmet health issue for children who have special needs. It can be a struggle for parents of children who have a disability to find good dental care because many places are not properly equipped to care for children who have cerebral palsy, epilepsy, craniofacial issues and other health concerns.
The dental clinic at Gillette is one of only three facilities in the metro area that is specially equipped to serve patients with disabilities. In 2019 the Gillette dental clinic had more than 2,700 visits.
Dental clinic now open to serve patients
A great deal of thought, planning and work happened to make sure the dental clinic has the procedures and safety measures in place to keep everyone as safe as possible from COVID-19.
“We have completed necessary construction updates on our dental space – including implementing a better ventilation system and wall partitions – to ensure proper safety measures are in place,” says Katherine Houle the interim manager of Gillette’s dental clinic in St. Paul, MN.
Gillette’s dental clinic fills a gap in dental and orthodontia care because many of the patients are medically complex and that makes it difficult to access care from community dentists. The Gillette team includes dentists, hygienists and orthodontists who have in-depth knowledge of the dental issues facing patients who have disabilities. Gillette also has a team of specially trained pediatric anesthesiologists and on-site operating rooms for more complex dental surgery.
In addition to the expert staff, the Gillette dental clinic also has custom equipment and special facilities to help patients be as comfortable as possible during a dental procedure. “We have space so our patients can stay in their wheelchairs when they receive treatment,” Houle says. “We have ceiling lifts in two of the treatment rooms. We have weighted blankets and stabilization boards to help our more anxious patients, “Houle adds.
New safety measures in place
New safety measures include a ventilation system to ensure negative air flow to help contain the possible spread of COVID-19 and other airborne pathogens. Negative air flow means lower air pressure allows outside air into a room and any air that flows out of the room passes by a filter. Exam areas are, of course, thoroughly cleaned but now procedure rooms are left empty for at least 30 minutes after a dental procedure to ensure safety.
We want to make sure your smile is great
"Gillette has always been focused on the safety of our patients and staff," says dental assistant Missy Ness. "With COVID we're stepping up things even more. We're taking all necessary precautions."
“Our dental clinic staff is eager to help patients,” Houle says. “We want to make sure everyone’s dental care and smile is great!”
New patients who would like an appointment at the Gillette dental clinic should first get a referral from their primary health care provider. For existing patients please call 651-290-8707 to speak to someone about making an appointment.