Your Story: Seton Center responds to COVID-19

Providing critical dental services during a pandemic

Improved oral health, better education, and lower costs have been the heart of Seton Center’s Dental Services since 1999. It is reflected in our mission and practiced every day as we serve those in need to improve their quality of life and change generational behavior.

Dental Services works with each patient to understand their oral health needs and address barriers to ensure healthy outcomes. Part of that experience is educating patients about necessary treatments and how preventive measures can eliminate the need for repeat procedures. 

Seton Center is one of the few safety net providers of dental care in our service area that accepts and encourages referrals from prisons, mental health centers, and the developmentally delayed community.

By offering oral health services and education to adults, children, and special needs populations, as well as in-school oral health services, Seton Center fills the gap in the prevention and oral health services for the under/uninsured and impoverished people within our 10-county service area.

At the onset of the citywide shutdown brought on by the pandemic, Seton Center scaled back services to only provide emergency treatments as outlined by the COVID-19 regulations, recommendations, and mandates for our state. In May, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidelines allowing for full dental services to resume.  

If there is one thing that took Seton Center’s Dental Services by surprise during this unprecedented time, it is the increased number of patients requesting dentures. Many patients expressed their interest in being fitted for dentures in part because of the citywide mask requirement.

Since the start of the pandemic, Dental Services adopted several procedures based on the American Dental Association guidelines to ensure the safety of patients and staff.

To begin with, Seton Center contacts patients two days before scheduled appointments to screen for any exposure to the virus. Staff reschedules those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or exposed to the virus. 

Upon entering the dental lobby, the receptionist screens patients for exposure and takes their temperature. Everyone is required to wear a mask and practice social distancing. 

Patients prepare for treatment by washing their hands and using an oral rinse to reduce any presence of the virus.

Dental staff who have direct contact with patients wear a combination of protective equipment, including NK-95 masks covered by level 3 masks and face shields or powered air purifying respirators. They also wear protective gowns over scrubs to protect staff’s clothing.

During oral treatments, dental staff uses special equipment that pulls airborne particles out of the air. The lobby is sanitized regularly by wiping down services and disinfecting the air. Operatories are thoroughly cleaned between patients, and the entire dental area undergoes a deep sanitization twice weekly by an experienced cleaning crew. 

If there is one thing that took Seton Center’s Dental Services by surprise during this unprecedented time, it is the increased number of patients requesting dentures. Many patients expressed their interest in being fitted for dentures in part because of the citywide mask requirement. Once teeth are extracted, it takes several weeks for gums to heal. During the mask mandate, patients can cover up their mouths while their gums are healing.

After the mask mandate is lifted, be prepared to see a lot of beautiful smiles made possible by Seton Center’s Dental Services and our supporters, such as Health Forward Foundation. 

For more information about Seton Center or to donate, please visit them at www.setonkc.org. You may also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Editor’s note: This post is part of a blog series that shares the impact of the pandemic on our grantees and community partners. If you would like to share your story, please find out more here.

Read how these community partners have responded to the pandemic:


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Pandemic Impact

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Health Forward Foundation
2300 Main Street, Suite 304
Kansas City, MO 64108
(816) 241-7006