Since 2020 and the arrival of COVID-19, dental practitioners have been hyper-focused on the protocols surrounding infection control. However, now that more and more of the population has become vaccinated and cases are occurring less often, it is of the highest concern that diligence is waning just a bit. The truth of the matter is, though, dental practitioners must continue following protocols when it comes to infection control. Vigilance is necessary now that COVID-19 has made us all aware of just how profound disease transmission can be and the impact it has on human life.
A Strong Commitment to Infection Control Compliance is Essential for Dental Practitioners in a Post-COVID World
In 1996, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put out a large number of recommendations and standard practices for precautionary measures for dental practitioners. The guidelines outline hand hygiene, the incorporation and utilization of personal protective equipment, the safety measures concerning sharps, the disinfection of environmental surfaces, the process of sterilization, and even practices associated with safety and injections.
Now that we have pushed through a pandemic, that same organization continues to push for controlling environments for the purpose and intent of stopping the exposure of pathogens.
The CDC is now encouraging dental practitioners to engage in what is referred to as “transmission-based precautions”. These are those that relate to treating patients who have an infection of a pathogen. Specifically, those that spread through droplets, direct contact, and even through the air.
By using the main recommendations and guidelines, practitioners may protect themselves and other patients from viruses; however, it must be taken a step further to ensure optimal protection and everyone must stay completely compliant and vigilant in order to achieve the highest level of success.
Are We Experiencing the Hawthorne Effect?
It is a known fact that infection control strategies are effective at the overall transmission of the harmful pathogens that are currently in existence. That is, only if we are in full compliance with those strategies. Dental practitioners are suffering from PPE fatigue.
They are overworked. They are uncomfortable. They are tired of all the extra steps needed for disinfection and sterilization.
When being observed, people will take the extra steps; however, it has been determined that if one is not observed, the overall adherence to the protocols is significantly decreased.
This is the Hawthorne Effect.
To ensure that we continue to protect ourselves, our coworkers, and those that visit our practices, we must NOT let our guard down. We must continue complete compliance.
Steps to Ensure Infection Control Compliance
The following outlines the most productive steps to ensuring optimal infection control compliance in dental practices:
- Clean the hands using an alcohol rub or soap and water. When washing the hands, wash for a minimum of 20 seconds. As an additional measure, completely sanitize prior to placing gloves on the hands.
- Dental instruments – such as handpieces and air-water syringes – create sprays that are capable of traveling small distances. You should use masks, protective goggles with or without an added face shield, a gown over your clothes, and gloves. Not only will you protect yourself, but you will protect your patients. Remember to change all personal protective equipment between each patient. While it is true that this may prove time-consuming, you will be playing a productive role in reducing the transmission of potentially harmful pathogens within your practice and the community.
- Next, wear the appropriate mask. If you work in an area where COVID-19 or other dangerous pathogens are being transmitted, you should have a N95 mask that is fitted for you. If you work in an area with low transmission rates, a standard 3-layered surgical mask with an additional face shield is recommended. Again, dental practitioners are subjected to bodily fluids and other substances that contain germs. It is better to err on the side of caution and be over-protected rather than under-protected.
- Clean all dental instruments – such as dental handpieces – according to manufacturer guidelines and ensure that all pieces are sterilized appropriately. You should have your dental handpieces regularly maintained to ensure that biological material is not lodged in the interior areas and that the motors are operating optimally.
- You must clean and completely disinfect all environmental surfaces and all devices within the practice. These areas are consistently contaminated by touching, splashing of fluids, and droplets that move around a room during the time when a patient is receiving care. Remember, you must completely clean first. Immediately following the cleaning is disinfecting. It is advised that dental practitioners utilize intermediate-level types of disinfectants as these will eliminate almost all bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
The Aerosol Control System
To ensure optimal infection control in your dental practice, you should purchase and integrate an aerosol control system.
This is a specially-designed system that removes contaminants that are created during patient procedures. The contaminants removed include various types of droplets, blood, dental aerosols, viruses, and more! This is made possible by the integration of a high-tech Quattro filtration system that is layered.
All viruses and bacteria that is absorbed through the system is killed in 99.9% of times. By having this system in your dental practice, you reduce the risk of pathogen transmission and the development of infections.
It keeps the air in your office clean and completely safe!
The following outlines the highlights of this amazing technological system:
- The system is highly convenient as it comes with a wheeled base and an easy to operate remote control for the highest level of efficiency
- The unit is both compact and extremely portable, allowing for a sleek, effective design
- It is an extremely powerful unit in that it has 10 different levels that exceed up to a capacity of 265 CFM
- The filtration unit is 4 layers and includes a germicidal UV-C with nearly 100% effectiveness
- The device comes with a 30-month warranty
If interested in our aerosol system, click on the following link now: https://hughesdentalrepair.com/product/aerosol-control/