One of the concepts we prioritized when designing our new dental clinic in Elizabeth was integrated infection control and sterilization procedures.
Our rooms are designed to remove harmful bacteria and viruses from the air and are utterly sterilized between patients. Your family can be assured of a medically sterile environment for even the simplest of dental cleanings!
Our staff is trained in standards and practices regarding COVID Safety that go above and beyond CDC guidelines.
Dentistry is SAFE in the COVID-19 era. A CULTURE OF SAFETY:
Don’t believe the media folks that are telling you to avoid dental care during the pandemic. It has been demonstrated that dental health suffered during the time dental clinics were closed in March-May. Periodontal disease and decay got worse. Many fractured teeth went untreated resulting in eventual tooth loss.
The truth is that dentistry has been very successful in the COVID era. Several studies have been done on dental practices and they have found that fewer than 1% of dentists have caught COVID nationwide and dental practices have not been shown to be a COVID spreading activity.
Dentistry has a long history of safety in the face of infectious diseases. It’s funny to think now, but when I went to school, no one wore gloves or masks. I was one of the first in my class to wear safety glasses! We only sterilized oral surgery and endodontic equipment. All the mirrors, explorers, etc., for routine dentistry was cleaned and then soaked in Zepherin Chloride, the “bug bath”!
Then in the 1980’s, there were concerns surrounding HIV/AIDS that changed things. Gloves and masks became required and as time went on everything had to be autoclaved, lab coats or gowns were eventually required. With those changes, we successfully treated patients through AIDS, Hepatitis A, B, and C, flu, SARS, MERS, Bird Flu, and all the rest of the seemingly yearly mini-pandemics.
Now with COVID-19 we have upped our safety further. N95 and type3 masks, full gowns, Face shields, head covers all being used for the majority of procedures. Only one person is allowed to accompany a patient and only if required. Verbal and health screenings are the day before and on arrival at the clinic where their temperature is checked. You will be asked to use a mouthwash before treatment, and wash hands or use hand sanitizer before and after treatment.
The new building was actually designed using the ideas I developed over the years for maximizing infection control efforts in a dental clinic. We planned the building and began construction before COVID-19 hit. It has become a very fortunate design feature of our clinic.
Space in the waiting room. The waiting room is long and narrow. We can socially distance several people in the waiting room once we are allowed to have patients back in.
Surfaces. All floors and counters, etc., are solid surfaces to enable cleaning.
Aerosol Control. One of the big issues with dentistry has always been the aerosol that is created when the hygienist or doctor uses an ultrasonic tooth cleaner or a handpiece to cut teeth. A fine mist containing oral fluids, bacteria, and virus is created. That mist is ejected outside the mouth and lands on shelves, floors , the chair, etc. This is nothing new in dentistry. It has been there since the electric dental handpiece was developed (1875). We have combatted that by draping equipment and surfaces, autoclaving everything, cleaning all surfaces between each patient, etc. As far as I know that dental aerosol has NEVER been implicated in disease transmission. But COVID-19 brought that aerosol into question because of the ease of spread of the virus.
In this building we designed the ultimate clean treatment room (operatory). There is nothing in the room except the chair, the headwall cabinet where all the utilities are located, the chair, and a video screen. No x-ray head hanging on the wall, no x-ray light, no cabinet surfaces, no overhead light, no suspended ceiling with its textures surface. There are no counters on the sides of the operatory. And since there are no counter tops, there’s no Kleenex, no phone, no floss containers, no glove boxes and all kinds of other stuff on the counters to be exposed to the aerosol. The room are designed to be CLEAN.
High Ceilings. The ceilings in the operatories are very high. My thoughts are that if you are trying to dilute an aerosol to make it less important, more volume is better than a tightly enclosed room.
Negative air pressure in the operatories. We have a gigantic fan in the operatory space that we turn on when performing aerosol generating procedures. That fan turns the air over in the operatories every few minutes to evacuate what ever aerosol is floating around.
Modern handpieces. Air driven handpieces (dental drills) have been replaced by electric driven handpieces which reduce the amount of aerosols produced during tooth preparation. Air driven handpieces can rotate at 400,000 rpm where electric handpieces turn at around 100,000 rpm therefore throwing less liquid into the air.
Laser dentistry also helps reduce aerosol production as the laser can be used to clean the mouth before treatment by Laser Bacterial Reduction. When used to prepare a tooth there is no spinning bur to throw things into the air and the laser beam cleans the spot where it is working as it goes.
Digital dental laboratory. We are trying to eliminate the mess that the dental laboratory has traditionally been. By eliminating the mess of various types of plaster that are used for dental models and using digital printing, we eliminate the dust, noise, and aerosols associated dental model preparation. The lab also has it own evacuation fan to remove odors and dust.
State of the art sterilization. Besides all the OSHA mandated controls for sterilization we have implemented additional safeguards. We use an instrument washer and cassette system to process instruments. This makes cleaning instruments easier, faster, safer, and cleaner than older methods. It also eliminates the aerosol created by the large ultrasonic bath the is used to clean instruments before autoclaving in many practices. Our autoclaves send a report of each run to the cloud and they are reviewed daily, to compliment the autoclave indicators in each pack and routine third party biologic testing.
Enhanced Personal Protective Equipment. Shields, masks, gloves, gowns and protocols! We have all the stuff and are trained to use it!
We love talking to our patients about safety. It is one of our primary concerns. If you have questions about your new appointment, contact us here!