Like doctors and nurses in hospital, the dental professionals are more at risk of contracting viruses. Dental offices can also be a place where the viruses, such as corona can spread if the cross infection control is not up to the standards.
I have gathered the most important things here for dental professionals to check to make sure you are protecting yourself, the staff and the patients. I have not gone into things like instrument disinfection because that should be organised regardless the coronavirus. If in doubt, read this.
Something we should remember when using hand sanitiser is that it does not kill all the viruses like norovirus (the one causing the winter womiting disease). Therefore it is advisable (also advised by the World Health Organization, WHO) for all of us to wash hands 20 seconds with soap even though it is pain in the backside to wait for the hands to dry so that you can pull on the examination gloves. Remember to use disposable hand towels to dry your hands and close the tap either with your elbow or with the hand towel to prevent re-contamination of your hands from the tap.
In the normal situation where we treat healthy patients, a lower fluid resistance and filtration efficiency are acceptable (personally I use either ASTM Level 2 or Level 3 masks). But when we are at greater risk of treating a patient who might carry airborne diseases like coronavirus, TB and influenza, we should use masks that have the maximum filtration. These face masks you recognise from the markings FFP2.
It is even better if the face mask has a visor attached to the mask. But even if it has the visor, use also safety glasses/your normal glasses under the visor. If the face mask doesn’t have a visor, use safety glasses or separate visor – also on top of your normal glasses.
Now, I would use also disposable hats like they do when performing oral surgery because people (me too) have these mannerisms of touching our head, scratching our head etc. for example on a lunch break. And do we always notice we do that? If we don’t, then how do we know to wash our hands straight after before we take another bite from the sandwich.
Check Your Surface Disinfection Liquid
Today is the day to look deeper into the small print of your practice’s disinfection liquid. I did some research some time ago because I wanted to find out if the liquid we were using was killing everything it was meant to. I found out that not all of them kill for example norovirus. And if they don’t kill norovirus, I doubt that they kill coronavirus.
I cannot tell you which one to use, but the bottle should have all the information needed. If not, contact the supplier or the manufacturer. One thing I noticed when I did my research that the disinfection wipes and liquids for sensitive surfaces are the ones that do not kill viruses.
It is good idea to wipe the door and chair handles (the unit’s of course but also the regular chairs) with disinfection wipes. Also it is good idea to go through the other handles of the practice many times a day – even the ones outdoor.
Provide Hand Sanitiser for Patients
Place a bottle of hand sanitiser in the waiting room. I saw my physiotherapist yesterday and first thing I did was to wash my hands. Common people do not realise to do this so could you perhaps ask your patients to wash their hands (for 20 seconds) when they arrive to the surgery?