Like many of my colleagues, our office was closed for a period of time following Governor Cuomo's instructions. That gave our office time to re-evaluate and adjust our infection control strategies. Dentists' have been using PPE (personal protective equipment) to keep ourselves, our staff, and our patients safe, actually since 1980. At that time, AIDS became a worldwide health crisis. Since that time, we have also been concerned about diseases like hepatitis, tuberculosis, and other respiratory diseases caused by cousins of the COVID-19 virus. These include SARS and MERS, and even the seasonal flu.
From around 1980, we have worn gloves and masks, sterilized all instruments with steam and pressure, and disposed of all items that cannot tolerate the steam and pressure of the sterilizing process. Also, we use disposable barriers to cover all frequently touched surfaces and disinfect all surfaces in the treatment room that may have come in contact with bodily fluids after each patient leaves.
Because of COVID-19, in our office, we have added additional safety measures such as mandatory mask-wearing in the office for all staff and patients, the temperature of all patients is checked upon entering the office, and patients are asked about their health and travels during the two weeks before appointments. Also, social distancing is enforced. All surfaces are disinfected after each patient leaves the office, such as doorknobs, chairs in the reception room, and all bathroom surfaces and surfaces at the reception desk (including the sneeze guards). Our patients' and staff's health are very important to us. That is why we follow all ADA, CDC, and state guidelines.
In addition, a high-speed suction device is placed close to the patient's face to remove any aerosols that may be generated during treatment. Also, I am proud to say that we have never used ultrasonic instruments during routine maintenance cleanings. These instruments generate a great deal of aerosol. Those who use them routinely now must consider switching to the hand instrumentation we have always used. We feel it does a better job even though it is more work for us. The polishing instrument we use at the end of each supportive periodontal therapy visit does not spin, so again, little to no aerosol is created.