Dental offices are faced with a wide range of safety concerns for both patients and staff. Recent events like the COVID-19 pandemic haven’t made matters any easier. In fact, dental practices have had to almost start from the ground up — reshaping their protective efforts in order to remain compliant with both Center for Disease Control (CDC) and American Dental Association (ADA) recommendations.
Some of these ADA instructions include:
- As questions about the current health status of patients prior to their appointment
- Recommend face coverings or masks when entering or waiting in dental practice
- Encourage social distancing by limiting the number of people in waiting areas
- Temperature check patients upon arrival to ensure safety
- Remove items in waiting areas or receptions like toys, reading material, television remotes, or anything else that may transmit the virus through contact
- Recommend dental staff wear additional PPE equipment such as surgical masks or N95 masks, or full-face shields
- Install PPE equipment such as sneeze guards in reception areas or operatories to further prevent the spread of viruses or bacteria
- Offer hand sanitizer or place stations around the office for patient use
- Cleaning surfaces regularly
Following all of these recommendations is a crucial first step in updating a dental practice to protect patients during their visit. However, we’re going to be focusing on how sneeze guard barriers for dental offices are a must in the dental setting.
How Do Sneeze Guards Work?
Protective sneeze guard barriers have an incredibly simple design and concept to prevent the spread of viruses, germs, and bacteria from person to person. By outfitting areas where interactions are a necessity with a barrier, you’re able to stop water droplets that may be carrying illnesses dead in their tracks.
Why Your Dental Practice Should Take Advantage of Sneeze Guards
1. Protecting Patients at Reception
While operatories may pose the highest risk for virus transmission, reception isn’t without its issues. Conversations between administrative staff and patients happen during every visit — and these interactions can pose a significant issue without proper PPE equipment for protection. Checking in for an appointment, scheduling a subsequent visit, or consultations all require some face-to-face time — which can be problematic during a cold and flu spurt, where oral water droplets can transmit bacteria or a virus. Outfitting your reception area with a sneeze guard barrier protects patients without hindering key interactions or the patient’s experience.
2. Protecting Administrative Staff
In addition to protecting patients, the staff at the reception area will also have peace of mind if a sneeze guard barrier is installed. As your team goes about their day, the threat of illness or infection is always present. It’s up to the employer to implement all of the PPE safety measures outlined by the CDC and ADA — along with additional systems that further protect staff during work hours. Sneeze guard barriers offer a simple and effective way to boost protective efforts and keep harmful water droplets at bay.
3. Additional Operatory Support
Operatories are by far the highest risk environment. In fact, dentists face the highest risk in medical professions for COVID-19 and other contagious viruses This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as a major contributor to contagion is respiratory droplets. Dentists are often inches away from patients’ mouths, leaving them highly exposed to the vicious virus. While surgical masks, N95 masks, and even face shields have become standard — additional protection is never discouraged. Custom sneeze guards can be crafted to fit over the headrest, creating a “shield box” that protects staff hovering just above the patient’s open mouth.
Dental patients are already an anxious bunch. In fact, there are some alarmingly high numbers of dental anxiety.
- Roughly 60% of people worldwide suffer from dental fear.
- Between 9% – 20% of Americans will avoid the dentist entirely due to anxiety or fear.
- Around 5-10% of people suffer from legitimate dental phobia.
It’s no secret that many people fear the dentist. Couple these existing fears of a future virus outbreak and you have a recipe for canceled appointments and lost revenue. The more PPE and precautionary measures your office is taking, the better — and sneeze guard shields are a simple and affordable solution. As the first piece of protective equipment that a patient will see when they walk in the office, a sneeze guard shield at reception plays an important role in setting the tone for safety during their visit.
So, do yourself and your patients a favor and implement sneeze guard barriers into key areas of communication throughout your dental office for improved reassurance regarding safety.
How to Get Started
There are a wide variety of sneeze guard barriers available in different shapes and sizes. The first step is to measure the area where you’re thinking about equipping a protective solution to better understand the dimensions you should be seeking out.
If you already have protective shields, there may be an opportunity to improve your system for better protection for both patients and staff. Some company’s offer extender brackets to expand upon your current setup. These allow for increased safety and stability.
Another potential option is to have a custom sneeze guard built for a unique area that may not fit the conventional model. Whether you want to implement a custom option in the reception area or your operatories, experienced sneeze guard designers are able to craft a solution that fits your exact needs.
There are never enough reasons to improve safety measures for your dental office. In these troubling times, it’s important for business owners and especially medical professionals to take the lead in offering protective efforts to ensure the safety of patients. Sneeze guard barriers are a simple and effective way to stop the spread of respiratory droplets that are produced when infected peoples speak, cough, or sneeze.
For dental practices that are dealing with such a high-risk environment, keeping staff and patients safe and avoiding an outbreak incident is of the utmost concern. Do your part to protect those in your office by listening to CDC and ADA recommendations and equipping your office with PPE solutions that work.