Now that the COVID-19 Omicron variant is rapidly spreading, your dental practice needs a strong infection control program in place immediately.
While it is true that the transmission of infectious-based agents among healthcare professionals in the dental industry and their associated patients is considered to be rare, cases have been documented from the year of 2003 to now.
Since the emergence of COVID-19 in 2020, dental facilities worldwide have made great strides in creating a strong infection control plan for their practices.
Now that the COVID-19 Omicron Variant is in full swing, it is time to take this aspect of your business very seriously.
Continue reading to learn how to create a solid infection control plan for your practice that will keep you, your staff, and your patients safe from the latest strain of the pandemic.
What is the COVID-19 Omicron Variant?
On the 24th of November of 2021, the SARS-CoV-2 variant identified as “B.1.1.529” was identified and quickly reported to the World Health Organization (WHO). The first two confirmed cases came out of Botswana and the South Africa region. Just two days later, it was named “Omicron” and was immediately listed as a “Variant of Concern” or “VOC”. By December 1st, the first case was confirmed within the United States. While receiving immediate attention, it has been confirmed that the Delta variant still remains the main one within the United States.
The following outlines information that has been established, to the date of the composition of this guide:
- It is believed that Omicron has the capability of spreading more easily and that it may be passed from one person to another – whether or not symptoms are present or the individual has been vaccinated.
- It is likely to infect individuals that have been previously vaccinated; however, it is believed that the vaccinated will experience less severe illness, and are at low risk for requiring hospitalization or experiencing death. The CDC recommends all who are vaccinated to receive a booster per the booster vaccination schedule outlined with each vaccination (Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, for example).
- It is believed – based on a recent small study – that Omicron is a significantly higher threat to the immunity individuals have towards COVID-19 than that of previous variants.
- Omicron is considered to be a highly mutated variant of COVID-19.
- Many studies and first-hand observations seem to lean towards the fact that the illness from the Omicron variant is much milder than that of the Delta variant; however, this is not yet 100% confirmed.
What Causes Infections in the Dental Setting?
For the purpose and intent of this particular section of this guide, when we use the term “infection(s)” we are referring to any type of infection within a dental setting INCLUDING COVID-19 variants, but not just COVID-19 variants.
Most infections that have occurred within the dental setting have been contributed to the following:
- Unsafe injection activities were found to result in the transmission of infections.
- Not using heat to sterilize dental handpieces between one patient and another often results in infections.
- Finally, failure to actively watch the autoclaves with spore testing.
In addition to the above, the contaminants that are produced during the procedures in a dental practice such as droplets of saliva, blood, dusts, aerosols, and more were found to have the single-highest impact on infectious agents appearing and being passed within dental practices. If you want a solid infection control program, you must handle all mentioned in this section, with the highest level of focus on those agents that are produced during procedures on patients.
How Do You Remove Contaminants in a Dental Practice?
There are several standard precautions that a dental practice should take in order to remove contaminants from the building and reduce the transmissibility rate of the healthcare workers and patients, alike. These include:
- Encouraging proper hand hygiene
- Utilizing personal protective equipment
- Practicing good respiratory hygiene
- Placing sharps in appropriate containers
- Sterilizing all instruments and devices
- Clean all environmental surfaces
- Disinfect all environmental surfaces
In addition to the above-listed strategies, all dental practices should have one or more dental aerosol control systems in the building.
What is a Dental Aerosol Control System?
A dental aerosol control system is a specially-designed product that operates in such a manner that it removes the various types of contaminants that are created and/or caused by conducting dental procedures on patients. Examples include viruses, bacteria, dust, blood, saliva, and other components that are similar in nature. This system integrates a powerful filtration system that consists of 4 distinct layers. Not only does it absorb contaminants with nearly 100% efficiency, but when viruses and bacteria become lodged in the filtration system, the device kills them on contact.
During the treatments in the dental practice, many do not realize just how many contaminants are released into the area. These are produced by using various types of dental instruments, with the most common being air-water syringes, dental handpieces, and even small ultrasonic scaler devices. Once the contaminants are created, they are ejected into the air where they linger for – at least – a couple of hours. This means that whoever enters this airspace – be it the dentist, the hygienist, the staff, or patients, they are subjected to the potentially infectious contaminants. By purchasing a dental aerosol control system, it prevents this from happening and helps promote health.
Get it Today
If you are ready to combat the new COVID-19 variant and you want to ensure that all areas and surfaces within your practice are as germ-free as possible, you should get an aerosol control system immediately. Not only will it help in keeping everyone that enters your facility as safe and healthy as possible, but it will also increase the reputation of your practice. In a world combatting a pandemic, it pays to be the cleanest and healthiest dental practice in town.
Now, you can have that!