Despite how some patients feel about going to the dentist to have their teeth professionally cleaned, everyone knows that going to the dentist is essential for healthy teeth and a healthy mouth. Going too long without seeing the dentist allows cavities and other painful tooth and gum issues to develop.
While there are many clear benefits of going to the dentist, there are also safety risks. Dentists and dental hygienists are required to get up close and personal with all their patients. This close proximity means that the potential for disease spread at the dentist’s office skyrockets, which deters some patients.
Thankfully, the American Dental Association’s and the Center for Disease Control’s latest dental safety guidelines, combined with the use of sneeze guards, can help prevent disease spread in dental offices across the US. Let’s explore these solutions, so you can keep your patients and employees safe.
CDC Dental Safety Guidelines
The ways diseases spread in hospitals are not that different from the ways diseases spread in a dental office. However, the CDC has recommended safety guidelines for dental offices that are separate from hospitals. Although there are similarities between hospital and dental guidelines, they are also quite different because dentistry is so unique. Here is an outline of the most important CDC dental safety guidelines:
Screen Patients Before Visit
It’s an excellent idea to call patients within an hour of their appointment to ask them questions about their health before they come in. This way, if a patient is sick, you can reschedule their appointment instead of allowing them to infect staff and other patients. This phone call is also an ideal opportunity to make sure the patient comes alone or with minimal extra people.
Some examples of screening questions are:
- Have you recently been diagnosed with an illness?
- Do you have any conditions that make you high risk for disease contraction?
- Are you now or have you currently experienced any of the following symptoms in the last 2 weeks:
- Trouble breathing
- Muscle pain
- Headache or sore throat
- Flu-like symptoms
Monitor Dental Health-Care Personnel
It’s also important to make sure your staff is being monitored or are monitoring themselves for illness. Post fliers that encourage proper handwashing and coughing techniques.
Enforce Mask Wearing
Ensure all patients who come into the office wear a mask right up until they get in the dental chair and the hygienist says they can take it off. Your entire staff should also be wearing masks, but dental hygienists should be wearing two masks and a face shield when possible. Respiratory droplets are a common way to transmit disease, and masks are a great way to stop them in their tracks.
Promote Social Distancing
The only time staff and patients should be close to one another is during an appointment. Before and after, six feet of distance should be maintained between all staff and all patients at all times. Use signs on the walls and the floor to remind everyone to socially distance.
Enforce Use of PPE
All dental health-care professionals should have to wear additional PPE to keep themselves and others safe. Aside from masks, appropriate PPE for dentistry includes:
- Protective eyewear
- A gown or protective clothing
Enforce Hand Hygiene
Proper handwashing and other hand hygiene techniques like hand sanitizer must be promoted for staff and patients alike. Double-check that all hand sanitizers are at least 60% alcohol.
It’s also crucial to make sure dental health-care professionals adhere to further hand hygiene guidelines, like disposing of all PPE appropriately before and after all patient contact (especially gloves).
Keep Everything Clean
There are countless surfaces and tools in a dentist’s office that must be cleaned several times per day. Surfaces and things that patients touch, tools used on patients, and even items or surfaces that only staff touch must be cleaned. By establishing a regular cleaning routine, you’ll help keep yourself, staff, and patients healthy. Learn more about recommended CDC cleaning techniques.
ADA Safety Guidelines
The American Dental Association guidelines for preventing the spread of infectious disease are based on the CDC dental guidelines, so they’re quite similar. The primary difference between the two doesn’t lie in content, but rather the examples and step-by-step directions that the ADA provides for things like:
- The Pre-Appointment Screening Process
- Procedures for In-Office Patient Registration
- Reception Safety Strategies
- A Checklist for the Operating Room
- Ways to Protect Staff
- A Shopping List for the Office
Take a look at the ADA safety guidelines to see the concrete examples and directions for yourself.
How Can Shield Guards Help?
The CDC and ADA recommendations offer you comprehensive solutions to provide a safe experience at your dental office. The perfect supplement to these guidelines that promotes social distancing and helps keep staff and patients safe is implementing shield guards around the office.
Shield guards, or sneeze guards, create a large, clear, plexiglass barrier between staff and patients that allows them to communicate without risking disease spread. The most effective place to put a barrier like this in a dental office is in the reception area. By installing either a hanging sneeze guard or a counter sneeze guard at the reception desk, both administrative staff and patients are completely protected from infectious respiratory droplets.
However, the reception area isn’t the only place that sneeze guards can help. Custom sneeze guards can be fitted to the dental chair’s headrest to create a box of sorts that protects the dental health-care professional leaning over a patient’s mouth.
Explore Your Sneeze Guard Options
Many patients experience heightened anxiety when they go to the dentist already. Why not ease their worries and reduce the risk of disease spread in your office? If you follow the CDC and ADA guidelines and install plexiglass barriers, you will be able to keep your patients and your staff safe and healthy.
At Sneeze GuardEZ, our mission is to outfit our customers with the perfect sneeze guards to keep their businesses thriving and their clientele happy. Whether your needs are custom or the size and style already exists, we’ve got what you need. Learn more about our sneeze guards for dental offices to find your perfect solution today.