It probably goes without saying that after we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, a visit to the dentist’s office will never be the same. We’ve all become much more aware of the need to prevent the spread of airborne contaminants, including viruses. And certainly, dental procedures, by their nature, now require the entire industry to set new standards for safety.
It should reassure you to know that dentists throughout the U.S. are already implementing safer procedures and will continue to refine and add to them.
This is not the first time a health crisis has led to significant and necessary changes in the practice of dentistry. Some of you may remember the 1980s, when dental staffs began wearing gloves and masks, in response to the HIV crisis. Today, it is necessary to ratchet up safety yet further, to prevent the spread of aerosolized droplets that may remain in the air for minutes and some for hours. At present, the CDC, ADA and NIH all agree that dentists need to kill these ultrasonic or handpiece aerosolized viruses successfully with UVC lights, air processing units, high volume suction and more time between patients to accomplish better results.
To accomplish this, we and other dentists will now begin using devices such as:
- UVC sanitization units, resembling lamps, which are mobile, self-contained germicidal cleaning devices that emit ultraviolet radiation at a low enough level (200-300 nm wavelengths). These devices eliminate nearly all bacteria, viruses and other pathogens present on surfaces.
- Air purifiers that continuously eliminate pathogens by oxidizing them on surfaces and in the air. These systems can run continuously around the clock, and protect small and even very large spaces. The one on our floor removes pathogens from 150,000 cubic feet!
These high-tech devices are needed because coronaviruses remain on surfaces for quite a long time. Many of you are probably aware of this, and may be surprised at what you have learned. However, since there is a lot of contradictory information about this issue floating around right now, we’d like to help by conveying the correct information:
At present, the CDC is recommending (among other things):
- Elective procedures and non-urgent dental visits be postponed.
- Dental staff members and patients to stay home if sick.
- Have patients wear a mask and gloves until or after the procedures.
- Clean and disinfect exam rooms and equipment following these infection-control guidelines.
At McLean DDS, for 35 years, Drs. LeBeau and Devasia have put patient health and safety our number one priority. Things will return to normal, but of course it will be a new normal. You will be seeing many new and unfamiliar procedures over the next several months, but the bottom line is, you will be far less likely than ever before to catch a cold, the flu or some other illness when you visit any medical or dental professional — and that is a very good thing.
We will keep you posted on COVID-related information. In the meantime, we here to help you any way we can. Please contact us with questions, concerns and to schedule necessary dental work.
Thank goodness teeth are armored with enamel keeps them safe from all viruses!