With COVID-19, 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 believe that many of the new safety procedures driven by the pandemic are positive developments for the long-term. Because 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 third installment that follows below focuses on dental procedures.
Dental Procedures to Minimize Exposure to Infectious Diseases
The very nature of dental work makes patients and healthcare personnel alike more vulnerable to exposure, which is why an aggressive approach to prevention has been standard procedure in dentistry for many decades. The most dramatic step forward in this effort, prior to COVID, was the HIV pandemic that surfaced in the early 1980s. However, because of COVID, stronger and more technologically advanced preventative measures became necessary.
Here are some of the most important procedural changes we’ve made to make your visit to the McLean office — and every shift for every McLean DDS team member — as safe as possible.
- Sterilized equipment only is readily accessible in operatories. Procedures have been enhanced for sterilization and disinfection of patient-care items, devices and surfaces with which patients and staff come in contact.
- Aerosol-generating procedures, including high-speed handpieces and air/water syringes, are used only when absolutely necessary. When they are required, they are used in conjunction with high volume suction and other equipment to minimize droplet spatter. Rooms are sterilized with low volume cold fogging to mitigate the spread of COVID via aerosolized droplets.
- Healthcare personnel wear high-grade PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) from head to toe, including surgical masks with protection appropriate for the given procedure, eye protection/face shields, gloves and gowns. Procedures for putting on and taking off PPE strictly follow CDC recommendations. PPE is also sterilized between shifts with UV light sterilization.
- Heightened awareness of and improved procedures for handling, using and disposing of sharps (e.g., syringes). In addition, we have improved procedures for treatment following a puncture wound and for safe injection practices.
We’re happy to report several months into implementation that our new procedures have been highly effective. Ensuring that you feel confident about safety when visiting the dentist is very important, because regular exams and required treatment not only protect the health of your teeth and gums, but they 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.