Don’t Let Up
While the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on most of the general public, it caused people to look at many things differently. For one thing, people changed their personal hygiene habits. For example, pre-COVID, most people used hand sanitizer only occasionally. Nowadays, miniature bottles of the gooey liquid seem to be in every purse, glove compartment, and desk drawer. And virtually every waiting room and drugstore checkout line prominently displays a dispenser of the omnipresent gel.
The pandemic, of course, also brought changes to the healthcare profession. In dentistry, it increased awareness of preventing the spread of disease. Practices beefed up their health and safety procedures and carried out cleanliness and sanitation protocols to a tee. Everyone in the office, it seemed, from front desk personnel, to the hygienists, to the assistants, and the patients, became combatants in this newfound fight for hygiene.
So now, with the pandemic having run its course, there might be a tendency for dental offices around the country to let up. After all, those drugstore hand sanitizer dispensers seem to be mostly empty now (not to mention messy and filthy). And people are less inclined these days to take those extra 5 seconds out of their day to rub on the liquidy substance. However, dental offices must resist the urge to relent. After establishing so many positive changes in the midst of a terrible situation, providers need to stay diligent to continue those good sanitation habits.
These habits, of course, are not just for battling communicable sickness, but also cross-contamination in dental care. As our first continuing education (CE) article discusses, infection prevention in the dental office is a "behind the scenes" endeavor, and dental healthcare providers everywhere all the time need to maintain high standards for patient and worker safety. In this article, the authors address two critical areas of cleanliness in which dental providers can never compromise or let up: treatment room surfaces and dental instruments. Just as individuals cannot let their guard down on their personal health, dental practices cannot begin to compromise in their treatment room and instrument cleaning and disinfection. In this regard, there is no rest for the weary.
When it comes to infection control and prevention, dental professionals must take nothing for granted. Stay diligent, even though the pandemic has passed.
Markus B. Blatz, DMD, PhD