How to Lower Your Risk of COVID-19 Infection as a Dental Professional
Working in the medical industry puts you on the frontlines of the battle against this pandemic. COVID-19 has shown itself to be a massive threat due to its ability to spread quickly and have a lasting respiratory impact. Due to this, many healthcare providers are at risk and are fearful that they could soon make contact with this virus. While there is nothing that can completely stop the virus's spread, there are some things you can do to help lower your chances of becoming ill while still providing healthcare services during this trying time.
Keep Clean, Keep Safe
Your opportunity to decrease your chances of infection starts before patients even enter your building. Screening for temperatures and respiratory symptoms at the door and requiring patrons to wear masks is a great way to slow the spread in your space.
Researchers suspect that the virus has a long lifespan on hard surfaces, so it may be a good idea to remove any unnecessary items from the waiting area. Things like decorative tables, plant pots, picture frames, and other non-essential hard surfaces can be taken out and put back once the risk lowers. You should also remove couches or other upholstered furniture since it can live on soft surfaces for even longer. Doing this will cut back on the cleaning needed to keep your space sanitary and reduce the risk of viral particles remaining in the cushions, which do not deep clean easily. Try sticking to hard chairs for now.
During treatment, you are making direct contact with your patient's body. Doing this puts you at a higher risk of contracting the virus. There are many things you can do to lower this risk. Oral dams, for example, can reduce spittle contact, which is especially useful when used alongside protocol to decrease the use of aerosol-generating procedures.
Setting up handwashing stations for your patients during their wait and while in the back is a good idea, as is using peroxide rinses to sanitize each patient's oral cavity. Dentists and dental assistants should use tools sterilized in an autoclave, as well, to prevent the spread of illness between patients and work locations. Responsible usage of medical supplies and tools is vital in any practice, especially so during a pandemic.
What to Do If You Are Potentially Infected
If you believe that you have come in contact with COVID-19, you should self-isolate and get tested. Your results will take some time to receive, but getting tested is necessary and will work to prevent you from spreading the virus if you have it. If you are negative, you can likely come back to work soon after the results arrive, but if the test comes back positive, you will need to quarantine for the full fourteen day period or until a second negative test comes back.
Safety and Sanitation
The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your staff is to practice safety and sanitation measures. You need to be extra cautious during this time and vigilant to lower your risk of infection. Follow government guidelines and stay up to date on the changing recommendations to ensure you are ahead of the curve to stay safe.