It's been a long time coming, but I finally got the chance to go to the dentist.

Admittedly, it's been a while since I've gone and I needed to get a tooth looked at that was bothering me. I've never had issues with my teeth in my 32 years so I was worried there was something wrong. Luckily, I was able to squeeze in an appointment but had to go to Middletown, Rhode Island to do so.

I suppose the toothache was a blessing in disguise because it motivated me to finally pay a visit. As I was heading out to my appointment, I received an automated text message prompting me to reply to it once I arrived in the parking lot.

After five to seven minutes after I replied, I received a phone call from the secretary that it was sanitized and safe to come inside, and to make sure I had my mask on. This is all so new and strange, I thought.

Once inside, there were four pages that needed to get filled out, three of them COVID-19 related. Who knew that there were so many questions? It really put into perspective the seriousness of this virus.

The next step was a temperature scan with a non-contact thermometer and one of those finger-pulse oximeters on the tip of my pointer finger. I'm not sure what that was for, but better to be safe.

"Gazelle, you can come in now," Krystal Botelho, the Registered Dental Hygienist, called out.

As I sat down in the chair, nervous as to what was wrong with my tooth, Botelho began reading off the stipulations of what they can and can not do due to the new rules and regulations put forth from the coronavirus.

"We can’t polish, use the ultrasonic or anything that produces aerosols/splatter," Botelho said. "You'll be given a pre-procedural rinse for 30 seconds to disinfect the mouth before we do any procedures. We are required to wear extra PPE to protect ourselves and the patients which means we’ll be wearing N-95 masks with surgical masks over it and disposing of the surgical mask after every patient – but we have to reuse the N95 – and then face shields to cover the rest of our face."

I had to ask, what was up with the finger reading when I first arrived? Botelho said it is mandatory and that the employees also screen themselves every morning, just like the patients, to make sure their temperature and oxygen levels are normal.

In the end, I was bummed that I couldn't get a good fluoride buff with that delicious grape flavor (although the mint is pretty refreshing, too), but was still fortunate to be able to fix the problem that was nothing more than a darn cavity. That's just my luck after being clean for 32 years.

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