With COVID-19 still affecting many communities, the continued health and safety of you, your employees and your patients is of paramount importance. And when it comes to avoiding COVID-19 in the workplace, that means proper usage of protective personal equipment (PPE).
1. Make sure you have the right PPE
The American Dental Association released an interim guidance form that recommends dentists wear a respirator with both goggles and a transparent face shield in addition to gloves and full coverings on exposed skin.
As always, make sure your wear appropriate protection for the level of risk. Check the ADA hazard assessment checklist (an ADA member login is required) and choose your defenses wisely.
The ADA recommends two types of respirators for COVID-19: N95 and N95 equivalents (KN/KP95, PFF2, P2, DS/DL2, Korean Special 1st). If you’re having a hard time finding N95 masks, the FDA put out a list of approved manufacturers of N95-equivalent masks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend N95, an N95 equivalent or higher for any aerosol-generating dental procedures.
2. Know the right order for PPE
Take care to follow the proper PPE sequence, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. PPE should be put on in the following order:
- Gowns should cover your torso from neck to knees and wrists. Tie behind the neck and waist to secure.
- Mask/respirators should be secured to the back of the neck and center of head. Flex band should mold around the nose, and the bottom should be below the chin.
- Goggles/face shields are pretty simple. Cover face and eyes, making sure they fit.
- Gloves should go over the wrists of your gown. Rolling them farther up the arm will aid in taking them off safely later.
When you finish, carefully remove all PPE before exiting the patient’s room, only removing your respirator after leaving the patient room and closing the door.
3. Watch out for dry mouth
Wearing masks for extended periods of time can also lead to increased mouth respiration, followed by dry mouth and a resulting increased risk of caries. Use the CAMBRA risk assessment protocol, and check your salivary pH levels with pH strips to make sure your mouth stays protected from more than just COVID-19.
4. Don’t reuse PPE
While the CDC has relaxed some guidelines on mask reuse, please don’t reuse PPE. Single-use items are not designed for extended and repeated use. Cleaning and reusing items not designed for either could lead to damaged items that no longer offer their full protection.
5. Get your reimbursement when you treat Delta Dental enrollees
Delta Dental is offering a supplemental reimbursement program to help alleviate the additional pandemic costs for each qualifying evaluation or consultation code. PPE and infection costs cannot be passed along to your patients.
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