In the past few months, several patients have asked if I think our new protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our office will last. I’ll be honest, it was on my mind as well when we came back to work after the shut-down in April. Long story short, I do believe many of the adjustments make Lake Baldwin Dental safer for our patients and our team, so they are likely here to stay.
Dentists Have Adapted to New Diseases Before
Before we came back to work after the shut-down, I called a few older dentists who had started practicing before the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 80s to get their input on how the coronavirus pandemic might change things for us. They had some valuable insight on facing new paradigms in infection control.
Before HIV/AIDS, dentists frequently worked without gloves. That’s truly a shocking idea for most of us. While hand hygiene was obviously a major focus, gloves were not required by law, and unless the procedure was going to be especially messy, they just weren’t used. In fact, a lot of protocols we now take as a given were unheard of in the past.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic created an entirely new concept of infection control: bloodborne pathogens. Today, this is part of our regular vocabulary in the dental world. We take regular classes to renew our awareness and control strategies for bloodborne illnesses. And this recent shift in our standards will serve the dental community well moving into the post-COVID era.
We Have Invested in Safe Air
As you saw in a previous post, Dr. Dunn has invested in amazing technology to keep our air as sterilized and safe as possible. These air scrubbers and the HALO system in our HV/AC are not going anywhere. Not only will they continue to keep our patients safe even after the pandemic is over, but they’re amazing for improving air quality in the office for our team members as well.
Respiratory hygiene is now at the forefront of our minds, and we are proud to provide the cleanest possible environment here at LBD.
Our New Protocols Are Probably Here to Stay
Just like how gloves became the standard in the 80s, it is likely that some of our new personal protective equipment will become the new normal for us. While we have always worn masks, gloves, and eye protection, you may expect to see hygienists wearing that full-face shield moving into the future. Once we realized how much plaque had been landing on our foreheads, many of us decided we should probably have been wearing a shield all along.
Likewise, many dental professionals may continue to wear the more heavy-duty N95 or KN95 masks into the future. Now that we realize how much a plain surgical mask may leak, we have adapted to a higher standard of filtration and will likely keep using them.
One more thing we may keep? That mouthwash at the beginning of the appointment. I know, I know. We all hate it. However, we have found that a pre-procedural hydrogen peroxide based rinse is an excellent way to keep all kinds of cold and flu germs under control while you are in the office. This not only protects our team, but it also protects the patient in the next room! We’ll see if that step goes the way of the dodo, but it may be part of the new normal.
These Protocols Work!
As laid out in detail in this article from a dentist in Ohio, dental professionals were rated as the most at risk for COVID-19 infection at the beginning of the pandemic. However, the predicted infection rates have not become reality. What does that tell us? What we’re doing is working!
Throughout the country, and throughout this pandemic, dental offices have been proven time and time again as very safe places. Our infection control game is on point and only getting better. We are proud to offer our patients the best possible experience. Maintaining the highest standards for infection control is central to our mission. Keep smiling, Orlando