The Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP) and the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement (DQP) have released best practices for dental providers to ensure the safety of their patients and employees as they resume elective treatment.
Best Practices for Infection Control in Dental Clinics During the COVID-19 Pandemic is a practical guide assembled by national dental infection prevention experts for dental practices as they operationalize myriad new national safety standards and guidelines for dentistry, the organizations said.
“Oral health is a critical component of physical and emotional health,” said Myechia Minter-Jordan, president and CEO of DQP and Catalyst Institute.
“In this new normal we find ourselves in, it’s so important for patients to return to preventive and non-emergency oral healthcare routines. This comprehensive, one of a kind tool is designed to offer actionable information to all dental practices so they can begin treating more patients in as safe a manner as possible,” Minter-Jordan said.
Entryway and lobby area preparation should include sneeze guards and plastic barriers at the reception desk and other areas where potential exposures may occur. Chairs in the waiting room should be placed at least six feet apart. High-touch items such as magazines, toys, and coffee machines should be removed.
All practice employees should be screened for COVID-19 disease at the beginning of each workday. All team members also should answer screening questions and have their temperatures taken with a contactless thermometer.
Patients and anyone who accompanies them should have their temperature taken upon arriving at the practice. All patients and visitors should be reminded to keep their face coverings on when they aren’t being treated if possible. Physical distancing between patients should be limited by the spacing of chairs in the lobby and monitoring of patient flow through the practice.
Surgical masks or respirators provide a greater level of protection and should be required when dental personnel are performing clinical procedures. Clinical personnel also should wear goggles or a full-face shield for critical and noncritical tasks. Personal eyewear and contact lenses are not considered eye protection. A clean pair of gloves should be used for each patient as well.
If there is no door for the operatory or the treatment area lacks complete walls, a plastic barrier could be used to seal the room. The barrier would need to be disinfected between patients. Clinics with open floor plans should consider floor to ceiling barriers, as long as they don’t interfere with fire sprinklers, to enhance the effectiveness of any HEPA air filtration systems.
In compiling their best practices, OSAP and DQP performed an extensive review of guidance provided by agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the ADA, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, and others. The guidelines include a practical checklist and companion section on resources and tools.