Protecting patients and staff from the transfer of infections during dental treatment has always been a key consideration in the dental industry. In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released guidelines for dentistry workers and employers designed to address issues related to this novel virus.
While OSHA’s recommendations emphasize the need to protect workers from being exposed to COVID-19, these precautions also protect the well-being of patients. Understanding these procedures can help you feel safe when receiving necessary dental services at this time.
Based on CDC recommendations, the seven locations of SEDA Dental in southern Florida are limiting dental services to emergency and essential dental care such as tooth loss, chipped or broken teeth, or oral infections. Our team of dentistry specialists provides expert care for a wide range of urgent dental conditions while following OSHA recommendations to minimize your risk for COVID-19 infection.
Learn more about the ways OSHA guidelines allow you to get the dental care you need while protecting your health.
OSHA guidelines include recommendations that dental professionals use appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) when exposed to patients. When used correctly, PPE helps to reduce the risk of disease transmission in the dental office. This is key during the COVID-19 pandemic because anyone can be infected and contagious without demonstrating signs of infection.
Recommended PPE items include gloves, a gown, eye protection such as goggles or a face shield, and a disposable N95 filtering facepiece respirator (certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) or better.
OSHA recommends this combination of PPE for dental staff performing any type of procedure on a patient with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. It’s also advised when treating healthy patients undergoing dental procedures that may produce splashes/sprays of water, saliva, blood, or other body fluids. When treating healthy patients with procedures that aren’t known to produce sprays of bodily fluids, dental staff should wear recommended PPE, with the option to substitute a face mask for the N95 mask.
To reduce the potential for patient-to-patient interaction and cross-contamination, OSHA recommendations call for the use of physical barriers or partitions between patient areas. Patients who start to exhibit signs of COVID-19 during treatment can expect to be isolated until they can be sent home or to a medical facility for treatment.
To reduce the amount of patient interaction with staff, OSHA advises that dental offices use minimal personnel during treatment, especially during procedures in which a patient’s bodily fluids may spread by splash or spray.
OSHA recommendations also advise that dental offices use administrative procedures to control the risk of COVID-19 infection in the office. This involves incorporating telephone triage that allows dental staff to determine whether your condition requires emergency care. It also includes screening patients for signs of COVID-19 infection before treatment.
The cleaning and disinfection of patient care areas and equipment require special attention, says OSHA. Appropriate treatment involves pre-cleaning before administering a hospital-grade disinfectant appropriate for COVID-19. Dental workers responsible for cleaning and disinfection may require PPE for protection from both chemical hazards and infection from bodily fluids.
To maximize the effect of cleaning and disinfection, dental professionals may utilize methods to reduce the volume of bodily fluids spread during a procedure. This may include the use of measures such as a rubber dam, high-speed fluid evacuation, or other modifications that may be new to patients.
While you may experience new procedures related to your visit to a SEDA Dental office, you can feel confident that you will receive the same professional level of care that we have provided since 2003. While we continue to assess and update our protocols, our modified policies reflect OSHA recommendations and include:
The SEDA Dental team is dedicated to providing expert dental care while working within OSHA’s dental guidelines. Find out more about how we can safely treat your dental needs by calling one of our convenient offices in Jupiter, Boynton Beach, Pompano Beach, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Pinecrest, or North Miami Beach to discuss your condition.