Best Practices Issued to Ensure Safe Re-Opening for Dentists and Patients
DentaQuest Partnership and OSAP leverage clinical expertise to promote best practices tool for the safe return to preventive dental care
As patients begin returning to the dentist for non-emergency dental care, the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP) and the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement (DQP) have released a comprehensive set of best practices for dental providers to ensure the safe return of preventive dental care for all.
The two organizations released the new tool, Best Practices for Infection Control In Dental Clinics During the COVID-19 Pandemic, today.
This resource is a practical guide assembled by national dental infection prevention experts for dental practices as they operationalize the myriad of new national safety standards and guidelines for dentistry.
“Oral health is a critical component of physical and emotional health,” said Myechia Minter-Jordan, President and CEO of the DentaQuest Partnership and Catalyst Institute, Inc. “In this ‘new normal’ we find ourselves in, it’s so important for patients to return to preventive and non-emergency oral health care routines. This comprehensive, one-of-a-kind tool is designed to offer actionable information to all dental practices so they can begin treating more patients in as safe a manner as possible.”
This best practice resource is a compilation of current regulations, guidance and practice tips assembled by national dental infection prevention experts. Best practices laid out in the tool, which will be distributed to practitioners throughout the country and updated as national guidelines evolve, include:
Entryway and Lobby Area Preparation
- Sneeze guards/plastic barriers are in place at Reception/Check-out and other areas where potential exposures may occur.
- Chairs in the waiting room to be placed at least six feet apart.
- High touch items such as magazines, toys, coffee machines and remote-control devices have been removed.
Dental Team Preparation and Screening
- All practice employees are screened for COVID-19 disease at the beginning of each workday. All team members answer screening questions and have their temperatures taken with a contactless thermometer.
Patient Arrival for Appointment
- Patients and anyone accompanying them to the appointment will have their temperature taken upon entering dental practice.
- All patients and visitors are reminded to keep face coverings on when not being treated if possible.
- Physical distancing between patients limited by spacing of chairs in the lobby area and monitoring of patient flow through the practice
Dental Operatory Specifics for Patient Care (Targeted to Dentists, Assistants, Hygienists)
- Surgical masks or respirators provide a higher level of protection and are required when performing patient clinical procedures.
- Wear goggles, or full-face shield for critical and noncritical tasks. (Personal eyewear and contact lenses are not considered eye protection.)
- Use a clean pair of gloves for each patient.
Adjusting Clinical Areas
- If there is no door for the operatory, or the treatment area lacks complete walls, consider using a plastic barrier to seal the room. This barrier will need to be disinfected between patients.
- Clinics with open floor plans will consider installing floor to ceiling barriers (ensuring they do not interfere with fire sprinklers) to enhance the effectiveness of any HEPA air filtration systems.
To develop this best practice tool, DQP and OSAP completed an extensive review of guidance provided by agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) and others, and developed straightforward instructions addressing all the major aspects of safely engaging in dental practice during the COVID-19 pandemic. Designed for dental clinicians, front office staff and other personnel, the document has two sections, a practical checklist and a companion resources/tools section. A full copy of the tool can be found here.
About the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement
The DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement is a nonprofit organization working to transform the broken health care system and enable better health through oral health. Through strategic grantmaking, research and care improvement initiatives, we drive meaningful change at the local, state and national levels. The DentaQuest Partnership is affiliated with DentaQuest, a leading U.S. oral health enterprise with a mission to improve the oral health of all. Find out more at www.dentaquestpartnership.org.
About the Organization for Safety Asepsis and Prevention
The Organization for Safety Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP) is a growing community of clinicians, educators, researchers, and industry representatives who advocate for safe and infection-free delivery of oral healthcare. OSAP focuses on strategies to improve compliance with safe practices and on building a strong network of recognized infection control experts. www.osap.org