If you have a dental emergency amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, do you still have the option to go to your dentist for a much-needed workup? The answer is yes, as dental services are considered essential health services too.
Like all healthcare workers, dentists follow minimum health protocols too. This includes wearing dental personal protective equipment (PPE). Some of these safety measures were already implemented in most dental clinics, even before the pandemic. Have you ever been checked by a dentist who was not wearing a lab gown or scrub, gloves, and masks? Exactly.
Rest assured that dentists are working hard to prevent contamination from happening. Dental professionals continue to guarantee public health safety, along with other healthcare professionals. “With our additional precautions and personal protection equipment, you’ve practically never been safer going to the dentist,” Dr. Aaron Jeziorski of the Bluedot Dental of Gilbert, AZ, says as he allays fears of infection.
But even though dentists are always cautious about their PPE, additional measures are still in place to avoid cross-infection during the pandemic. Let’s take a closer look at these new protocols and measures:
What Consists A Dental PPE?
A dental PPE’s main purpose is to protect healthcare practitioners from becoming a potential vector for cross-infection. PPEs prevent blood and other bodily secretions from sticking into the wearer’s clothes, undergarments, skin, or mucous membranes.
A dental PPE can be worn to protect the following body parts from cross-contamination:
- Eyes – Goggles and visors
- Hands –Sterile and single-use gloves
- Face – Masks, shields, and respirators
- Body – Scrubs and gowns
How Does A Dental PPE Protect You?
Simply put, PPEs act as a barrier between infectious materials and mucous membranes or any of your body’s openings such as skin pores, mouth, nose, and eyes. Each protective piece has a specific function, as explained below:
- Protective Clothing– Lab coats and scrubs with long sleeves provide protection from drops of saliva and blood that can come out during dental procedures. This clothing is removed after each use and should never be worn in public.
- Gloves- Besides your eye muscles, your hands are one of the busiest parts of your body. As such, they play a big role in sickness transmission (and prevention), as they come in contact with objects that may carry disease-causing microorganisms, including viruses. Typically made from vinyl and nitrile, gloves can be surgical and non-surgical. Nevertheless, they should only be used once and disposed of properly right after use.
- Surgical Masks – Commonly known as face masks, surgical masks are used to cover the nose and mouth to prevent splashes of oral fluids to and from the wearer. As all of us must have known by now, the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through respiratory droplets. That’s why dentists and healthcare workers are recommended to wear masks that have high filtration efficiency against microorganisms.
- Face Shield- As viruses can enter the body through the mucous membranes or any opening in the face, a face shield and protective eyewear is imperative to act as a barrier from dental activities that can generate splash, splatter, and aerosols.
The Bottom Line
Prevention is better than cure. Healthcare workers, including dentists, take this saying to heart by breaking the cycle of infection. Dentists help curb the spread of COVID-19 by consistently sanitizing their clinic and using protective dental PPEs. The pandemic has not brought many changes in the way dental and medical facilities ensure safety, but it sure made them stricter in enforcing these basic health rules.