News: Dental clinic changes enrich training and care

Recent developments in Dentistry are making an impact, as the Dentistry Surgical Care Unit re-opens to patients and clinic upgrades enhance training and patient care.

Dentistry Surgical Care Unit re-opens to patients

The Dentistry Surgical Care Unit (DSCU) successfully re-opened to patients in November. 

Faculty members posing with a paediatric patient and his fatherOperating as an outpatient day-surgery unit, the DSCU enables the provision of oral surgery and a wide spectrum of dental procedures. A collaboration between Schulich Dentistry and the Department of Anesthesia & Perioperative Medicine, it features two state-of-the-art operating rooms, six recovery bays and a nursing station. 

At this time, the team is focusing on high-needs paediatric patients in the London area, particularly those who may have difficulty accessing this specialized type of care. Since the re-opening, eight patients have received treatment.  

The team hopes to be able to expand this scope in the coming months depending on the needs of the community and the resources available.

 With existing ventilation and infection prevention and control (IPAC) protocols in place as required by the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario and the Ministry of Health, the DSCU was already equipped to manage many pandemic safety requirements. For the re-opening, the staff team implemented patient screening, enhanced PPE upgrades and the installation of plexiglass shields at reception.

“We know that good oral health is an important factor in overall health, and the DSCU is especially helpful for those who need care with general anesthesia,” said Dr. Michael Shimizu, Director of the DSCU and Chair, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery. “COVID-19 has put an extra burden on our hospitals and with the DSCU, we hope to help decrease wait times and increase access to dental care for people in the community.”

The DSCU team invites all health care providers to refer patients for consultation and management. Patients are also welcome to call and book consultations to see if they require treatment and whether they are suitable for care in the DSCU.

Clinic upgrades bring new level of professionalism, innovation

Thanks to donor support, several upgrades to the School’s main dental clinic have helped students succeed in their training despite the obstacles the COVID-19 pandemic presented.

Dr. Rae Dorion reviewing dental images with a student in the main clinicWhen in-person dental care was suspended in early 2020, the clinical education team set-up 40 new mannequins and designed an entirely new curriculum to train and test clinical competencies.

While patients have now returned to the main clinic, the mannequins will continue to be used by students to practise procedures and improve their skills. They are the same model as those used by the National Dental Examining Board of Canada, giving students an extra edge in preparing for their licensing examinations.

Seventy-five intra-oral cameras were introduced to help reduce traffic in and out of closed rooms, established to perform aerosol-generating procedures. In the longer term, they are also enhancing diagnosis and treatment planning, and improving communication between students, patients and specialists.

Half the cameras were donated by Dentsply, and the remaining costs were covered through donor support.

The clinic also received air purifiers donated by Austin Air Canada, which had a major impact on the safe delivery of patient care.

With ongoing restrictions for dental care in Ontario, the clinic team continues to navigate the situation, all with an eye to the future.

“Never let a crisis go to waste, as the saying goes,” said Dr. Rae Dorion, Assistant Director, Clinical Affairs. “The things we’ve learned and the adaptations we’ve put in place have proven to be things we’ll hang on to. They have been extremely valuable tools for the quality of patient care we’re providing.”