Since March, most dental offices have closed their doors to non-emergent cases. Now, the country is beginning to open back up, including dental offices. The CDC has been doing an exceptional job updating their requirements for the country as well as the dental field. These guidelines are what we will use to dictate the new standards we will implement to keep everyone safe.
The Importance of Following the Standards
The Coronavirus is spread through bodily fluids, mainly saliva. During dental procedures, aerosols are produced and spread into the air. These aerosols have the potential of transmitting the Coronavirus among staff and patients if not handled correctly.
Using the standards in place by the CDC, the risk gets minimized. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a standard that must be implemented in the dental field to help stop transmission. These standards protect staff and patients from potential exposure.
Universal Standard Precautions
The standard precautions presented by the CDC are the minimum requirements. These requirements apply to all patient care. The minimum requirements do not show any bias and require being used regardless to a patient being symptomatic or not.
The most critical areas are:
- Hand hygiene
- Using personal protective equipment such as gloves and masks
- Cough etiquette and respiratory hygiene practices
- Sterile instruments and devices
- Clean and disinfected surfaces
Some of these standards are even broken down into dental-specific criteria. The standards were put into place to help protect patients and dental staff.
Dental Specific Standard Precautions
Dental healthcare staff exposes themselves to aerosols daily. Aerosols can spread through the air, falling on surfaces in the procedure area. Some of these droplets are not visible to the naked eye.
Dental Hand Hygiene
Like with any other hand hygiene practice, washing is essential. The standard for hand washing requires lathering with soap and washing for at least 20 seconds before rinsing.
If soap and water is not readily available, a hand sanitizer with a high alcohol content can be beneficial for sanitizing the hands. Proper hygiene practices should be used after touching any areas, including instruments, that could have been exposed to aerosols or other fluids.
Gloves are considered a part of standard hand hygiene in a dental practice. In order to efficiently use gloves as protection, they must be changed between patients and the hands should be washed.
Dental Personal Protective Equipment
Dental patients and staff are required to wear personal protective equipment. These come in the form of gloves, masks, gowns, and eye shields.
Cough and Respiratory Etiquette
Dental staff is required to stay home if they feel ill. The temperature of each staff member gets checked when they arrive, and those presenting with even a mild fever get sent home. Patients have to be free of illness symptoms to get seen by staff, as well.
The CDC recommends having hand sanitizer and disposable tissues readily available in waiting rooms. These aid those waiting in covering their cough and practicing proper hygiene.
Dental Office Sterilization of Instruments
Some dental office instruments are disposable. Other tools get sanitized and reused. Using proper sanitizing techniques is essential.
Sanitizing instruments is done before any other patient uses them. This helps to keep patients safe amidst the Coronavirus crisis.
Sanitizing the Dental Office
All surfaces of procedure rooms will be sanitized after each patient. This keeps the Coronavirus transmission to a minimum. Using surface barriers, much like those on chairs, will get changed between each patient.
Using a Dental Office with Precautions
Steger Smiles keeps up with all the CDC regulations. Essential care means using precaution during the Coronavirus crisis. Steger Smiles knows this and makes a safe dental environment. Call today to schedule your appointment.