Dental professionals are in a high risk group of contracting the coronavirus due to the nature of their job. Many dental practices all over the world need to make changes to their way of working to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, to protect the patients and employees and to guarantee that they won’t run out of e.g. face masks in the next months to come.
I would like to know, what changes you have made in your work place and how the coronavirus has affected your practice.
I want to share your story. The story can be long or short. Only thing I would like you to include in your story is the country you are working (as I have readers in every continent). Only your story and the country will be published. Your story might help your colleague on the other side of the world. So please share your story!
You can use the contact form below to send your story or you can write an email and send it to dentalrevelations(a)gmail.com.
This is an update for my previous post about things you can do to prevent the coronavirus (or any virus) from spreading too quickly.
If you have flu-like symptoms (even the slightest), do not go out. If you need to go to buy food or medicine, ask your friend or family to do it for you and leave the shopping outside your door.
Work remotely if possible.
If you are healthy (no flu-like symptoms), you may go out but keep distance to other people and avoid public places.
Do not visit friends and family – especially the elderly or who’s immune system is impaired (like cancer sufferers). Instead call them.
Wash hands every time you come in, after using toilet and before you eat – use proper technique when washing the hands, drying them and closing the tap. Use hand sanitiser if washing hands is not optional.
If you are healthy and not in a risk group, go food shopping during the day. Leave the early morning hours to the risk-groups when it is the most quiet.
Gough and sneeze to your sleeve. This is important especially in public places. And very important it the food stores where all of us need to go. Remeber that there is not such thing as innocent or unharmful uncovered cough!
Wash the fruits and vegetables with soap (remember to rinse thoroughly).
If you get flu like symptoms DO NOT phone the health officials. DO NOT go to the health centre. Treat yourself at home like with any cold. DO NOT go out. Instead ask a friend or family to bring you the stuff you need and ask them to leave them behind your door. But if you develop more severe symptoms like breathing difficulties, that is the time to call your health care officials. Why this is important? Because the health care system is now under huge pressure and all of us need to understand that even if you are worried that you have contracted coronavirus, you do not need to see/call a doctor. If you do not have breathing difficulties, there is no need to call or see a doctor. In the worst case scenario, you might take common cold to the health centre and the staff will get sick during the time when they are needed the most.
Cancel you hobbies and holidays (in the next coming months). Cancel everything where several people would gather.
Cancel you non-urgent dental and doctor’s appointments.
Remember that we will get thorough this. It is only temporary and life will go on after the epidemic passes. It will be difficult to distance yourself from people (unless you are an introvert). Use internet to connect to people. Chat with people you don’t know. They are as desperate to connect as you are. Sing from the window if you like and if it lifts your mood or the neighbour’s.
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?