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Dental Office Adherence to PPE per CDC Guidance During COVID-19
The phrase “PPE per CDC guidance” has been getting a great deal of attention recently. Many patients want to know how to prevent exposure to COVID-19. Adhering to PPE per CDC guidance for dental offices is important to limit the spread of diseases during dental treatments. With the coronavirus outbreak, the guidance has been modified accordingly, and dentists are adopting the changes into their practices.
Using PPE per CDC guidance
Even before now, dentists have used PPE to protect themselves during dental procedures. They would normally wear surgical masks during a routine checkup and dental cleaning. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the guidelines, though. Although surgical masks are good for protection, they are not effective against the threat of the coronavirus. Fortunately, the CDC has released updated guidelines that advise dentists to use the highest level of PPE possible.
Dentists are only handling emergency dentistry treatments currently. This is to reduce exposure to potential COVID-19 patients. In cases when dentists need to perform a dental procedure, the CDC recommends that they suit up with gloves, gown and eye shields. Eye protection can be in the form of a face shield or goggle with solid side protection. Dentists can opt for disposable or reusable eye protection and overalls. Gloves are mostly disposable.
Also, the CDC recommends that dentists wear N95 or more improved respirators. These respirators are effective for stopping most particles or microbes from getting into the lungs or mouth. Irrespective of the dental treatment, dentists need to wear these respirators if accessible. Of course, there is currently a limited supply, so many healthcare providers are unable to get N95 respirators. The CDC has a guideline for managing inadequate supply as well.
Replacing N95 respirators during the pandemic
When the dentist cannot get N95 respirators to use, they can opt for an FD-approved surgical mask and full-face protection. The surgical mask will be disposed of after a single use. Most types of full-case shields are reusable after cleaning. The shield must be sanitized properly before another use. The cleaning guidelines are different for most face shields. Dental personals must adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines for effective cleaning and disinfection.
Patient referrals in the absence of PPE
Some dental professionals cannot obtain N95 respirators or face shields and surgical masks. In this case, they will refer the patient to another provider. The CDC states that dentists who do not have required PPE per CDC guidance should avoid performing dental treatments. At this time, even a minor emergency procedure can put the dentist at the risk of exposure. Dentists should refer their patients to other dental professionals who have the needed PPE.
Dental practices are adhering to the use of PPE per CDC guidance. The guidelines are in place and essential to keep the dental staff and patients safe. If you need to undergo an emergency procedure, you will be better off with a dental care provider who adheres to the guidelines. Despite this time, following the guidelines can restore confidence and keep you protected.
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