How to practice safety measures during COVID-19 in an industry that demands physical contact
The dental industry has certainly experienced grave challenges this year, balancing providing an essential healthcare service that demands close contact with minimizing risk against COVID-19.
While dental healthcare personnel (DHCP) have adhered to extensive hygienic protocols since the beginning of the profession in the early 1900s, additional prevention and control practices have been outlined by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in order to mitigate the risk of infection.
What protocols have been laid out by the CDC for dentists?
Standard infection prevention practices in dental settings remain imperative during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. However, the CDC has updated and added to these practices to help dental professionals achieve the safest possible healthcare delivery. For complete details on protocols, visit the CDC’s guidance page.
How can I improve and enhance the safety and effectiveness of PPE for patients and DHCP?
There are many ways that you can go above and beyond the protocols to ensure that your PPE is the safest and most effective it can be.
Set up a hands-free station for patients to obtain and put on their own PPE before entering your office.
- Take care to ensure that the cuffs of your gloves are tucked under the sleeve of your gown; if your gown doesn’t have thumb hooks, tape the sleeve of your gown over your glove to reduce the chance of skin exposure.
- Fogged glasses are the last thing you want as a health care professional, but they are harder to avoid while wearing a mask. Try micropore tape along the bridge of your nose and cheeks and over the top of your mask, and then put your glasses over top. This will seal the area that lets warm air up into your glasses.
- Appoint dedicated baskets, stations, or cupboards to each DHCP for their own storage of masks, gowns, and gloves. Store only clean and laundered PPE there.
- Just as the thickness and durability of a gown or coverall fabric should be taken into consideration by DHCP, underclothes can be taken into account as an extra safety measure. Thicker, more durable material can help to ensure skin protection. Always think about comfort level, too.
- DHCP work with their hands for a good part of the day, so comfortable, durable, and flexible gloves are extremely important. Check out these nitrile gloves, which alleviate potential adverse reactions to latex.
MERV-13 filtration is capable of capturing particles from 0.3 to 3.0 microns. For frontline workers like DHCP, additional protection from virus carriers can be vital. Try these high-efficiency mask filters for that extra layer of insulation.
What specific protocols are in place for putting on and taking off personal protective equipment for dental care workers?
It can be easy to get lazy with following all of the proper protocols for donning and doffing PPE, but doing so in the correct sequence is just as important as wearing the equipment in the first place.
The CDC has several sequences recommended for putting on and disposing of PPE. One of those scenarios is briefly outlined below:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before entering a patient room.
- Put on a new, clean gown.
- Put on a surgical mask or respirator.
- Put on goggles or face protection that covers the front and sides of your face.
- Put on clean gloves.
You are now ready to enter the patient room.
After care is complete, follow the below sequence for proper removal and disposal of PPE:
- Remove gloves.
- Remove gown, and discard in a dedicated container for waste or linen.
- Exit the patient room.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Remove eye protection, and clean and disinfect according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Remove and discard the surgical mask or respirator, without touching the front of the mask.
For complete details on protocols, visit the CDC’s guidance page.
Where can I get a proper supply of the certified and approved personal protective equipment needed for my facility?
The massive demand for PPE has led to a surge of counterfeit equipment on the market.
At Supply + Protect, our vendors must provide:
- A copy of the Medical Device Establishment License (MDEL), when applicable
- Natural Product Number (NPN) for alcohol-based items, such as hand sanitizer
- Copies of certifications and testing results for products, when applicable
- Evidence of insurance
- References or a demonstrated track record
You can trust that your PPE from Supply + Protect is actually effective.