Covid Changed RDH Day To Day For The Better!

dentist cleaning dental hygienist teeth

Because of COVID, dental professionals have had to make changes and set new standards for both themselves and their patients. With the risk of cross-contamination through aerosols, many of the everyday things we see in dentistry are no longer the case. But that doesn’t mean that patient care has become any less effective. Here are just some examples of how new COVID and dentistry guidelines have made the dental office a safer place to be.

(As a general disclaimer, things are constantly changing in COVID and dentistry in general. Please always remember to abide by CDC and ADA guidelines as they continue to evolve. Such as pre-screening all of your patients and staff, as well as taking temperatures upon arrival.)

Changing Clothes at the Dental Office

It used to be fairly common to see everyone come to work in their scrubs and leave in their scrubs. Even though a lot of dental professionals knew they weren’t supposed to be doing it that way, it still happened. But because of COVID, it’s more important than ever to keep your scrubs at the office for laundering or to transport them in a bag and bring them home to wash without contaminating anything else. 

Plan to change into and out of your scrubs at work. And always, always, always keep your clinical shoes separate as well. You can either leave them at work or store them in a bag if you’re bringing them to and from your home. Don’t wear them out and about or walk into your house with them!

Here’s where your morning routine gets easier than ever. You won’t have to make your hair fancy or put on lots of makeup. Because you’re about to get ready to sweat!

PPE and the Dental Professional

A few years ago, PPE in the dental office meant gloves, masks, goggles, a lab jacket, and a surgical gown if there were a lot of aerosols or oral surgery involved. Today, most of us are covered up from head to toe to protect ourselves from aerosols flying at us from every angle. Today our PPE also consists of wearing surgical caps, covering all of our hair from potential splatter (hence the easy hairdo as mentioned above.) Then we wear face shields over our loupes and masks, setting us up for some pretty heavy sweating. The same kind of sweating we did as kids at summer camp. Fortunately, all of this PPE makes it safe enough for us to continue caring for patients while keeping everyone else healthy. But it might require cranking down the A/C a little bit more than normal!

Reduced Exposure in the Operatory

Last but not least, our dental operatories have changed too. A lot of us are using air purifiers to remove aerosols, longer barriers to cover more surface areas, and we’re having every patient pre-rinse to reduce oral bacteria levels before instrumentation. One big and important change is taking all of your visuals or demonstration models off of the counters and putting them behind closed cabinet doors. We’re also removing glove and mask boxes from the dispensing cabinets, because of the opening that’s exposed to the operatory environment. Instead, those are getting turned around or put in closed drawers and cabinets. 

Last but not least, try to hand scale whenever possible. This will cut down on aerosol production. And if you do need to use the ultrasonic, always use high-speed suction equipment and never allow your patient to close down on the suction unless you have a built-in backflow protector. 

Recap

COVID may have changed the face of dentistry, but it isn’t limiting patient care. It’s actually making the dentist’s office one of the safest places you can be, especially during a pandemic! From reducing cross-contamination to increased PPE and minimizing patient interactions with other individuals, dental teams can help stop the spread of disease while providing impeccable care to their patients.