COVID-19 has an impact on health-care professionals, including dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants. COVID-19 virus has been found in saliva, which puts the dental professional at risk. Furthermore, recently released statistics showing that the virus can live on up to three days on plastic and stainless-steel items, four hours on copper surfaces, and up to three hours suspended in a fine mist. The information assimilated in this document will help those in the dental profession reduce the risk of exposure to and from patients.
Practice safe infection control protocols
- Use preprocedural rinse of peroxide. The concentration of any rinse used should be at least 0.5%. Over-the-counter peroxide is typically 3%, so it would need to be diluted. Rinse at the beginning of the appointment for 60 seconds and again after the appointment.
- At this time, the ADA and CDC are only recommending peroxide to destroy the virus. While chlorine dioxide and chlorhexidine have been shown to kill some viruses, at this time, the American Dental Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not endorsed their use for destroying COVID-19.
- ALWAYS wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when working directly with patients.This includes safety glasses, gowns, lab jackets, face shields, gloves, and a mask appropriate for the task.
- Front desk staff should call and screen patients prior to their scheduled appointments. Additionally, staff should screen patients when arriving for their appointments.
- Reschedule any patient who discloses they have had flu-like symptoms that include a high fever, dry cough, or difficulty breathing. Or if they have been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 within the last three weeks or 21 days.
- Avoid direct handshaking, hugging, or greetings that require direct contact.
- Provide hand-sanitizer in all operatories, at the front desk, and in all bathrooms.
- Disinfect common areas including entry doors, throughout the day. Diluted household bleach will kill the virus.
- Wash hands often and refrain from touching your face—eyes, nose, and mouth.