With COVID, patients, dentists and all office staff members have become more concerned than ever about health and safety. While our team has put safety first from the day we opened our practice, we can now see that our new safety procedures, driven by the pandemic, are positive developments for patients and staff for the long-term. The issue of safety is so important in light of COVID, we are running a six-part blog series about how dentists keep patients safe at the office. The fourth installment that follows below focuses on air quality issues.
Air Quality and Ventilation Control in the Dentist Office
Because pathogens travel through the air, dental settings require careful management to keep team members and patients as safe as possible.
Equipment and Procedures. Prior to COVID, many patients probably didn’t think much about how some types of dental equipment and procedures stir up the air — for instance, high speed handpieces and air or water syringes. To combat the spread of germs, we have implemented many changes, including:
- Eliminating or reducing the use of devices that create aerosols.
- Beginning procedures by giving patients an oral rinse.
- Relying on hand instruments for restorative work whenever possible.
Ventilation. Circulating and filtering air as effectively as possible went from being high priority to an ultra-high priority after COVID. Steps to improve ventilation at McLean DDS include:
- Use of high-speed extraoral evacuation systems
- Increased air flow
- Upgraded, HEPA air filters
- Air purifiers
- More limited access to HVAC controls
Of special note is the addition of our HLV fogger. An adjunct to conventional disinfection, the device releases a mist of extremely small particles in an enclosed space. The mist lands on surfaces, helping to kill bacteria and viruses before evaporating. The mist is comprised of hypochlorous acid, an extremely safe, eye-friendly, skin-friendly, inhalable, ingestible, non-corrosive disinfectant. Testing in vitro against avian influenza (AIV), research showed that 100 ppm and 200ppm solutions neutralized AIV within five seconds.
Promising new air purification technologies such as ionization and photocatalytic oxidation are advancing rapidly. We are looking at them with great interest.
We’re happy to report several months into implementation that these new procedures have been highly effective. It’s very important for you to feel confident in visiting the dentist, because regular exams and required treatment not only protect the health of your teeth and gums, a thorough dental exam can also help identify warning signs and reduce the risk of serious conditions including oral cancers and heart disease.
If you have questions or concerns about health and safety at McLean DDS, please contact us. We are eager to provide whatever information you need.