It’s no surprise that healthcare workers are at the greatest risk for coronavirus infection, putting themselves on the front lines, with many of them having to stay under quarantine because of exposure to the virus. According to an analytical chart from the NY Times, dentists and dental hygienists are at the highest risk of contracting the coronavirus out of any healthcare worker, both in terms of exposure to disease and being in close proximity to their patients. As a result, dental offices have had to take extraordinary precautions to protect their employees and their patients.
The Trine Dental Group in Orland Park, Chicago, has found an innovative way to protect their employees and patients that Dr. Christopher J. Pavletic describes as going “above and beyond” to keep the patient safe. When re-opening their offices early in the pandemic, Dr. Pavletic and his team wanted to ensure that their office was safe and clean from the aerosolization of viruses in the air and on surfaces in the dental operatory.
“We have been using filters and safe methods, such as extraoral aerosol evacuation and rubber dams, to protect the patient during mercury and silver filling removal,” Pavletic said. “I feel like dentists, generally speaking, have always been concerned about disinfection and safety of their patients.”
In addition to adhering to strict CDC guidelines, using advanced personal protective equipment, and deploying 2 types of HEPA air filter units, Dr. Pavletic placed Krypton Far UV-C lights, on the ceiling 8-10 feet above the patient, which allows for the disinfection of COVID-19 virus particles in the air and on surfaces within the perimeter of the light. So far, they’re the only dentist practice in the Chicagoland area to utilize the Krypton Far-UV technology.
“As a practitioner, I wanted to have something that I could feel really solid and comfortable about for my patients and my staff,” Pavletic explained.
How do these lights work? At first glance, you may confuse a Krypton light with a smoke detector on the ceiling that contains a faint purple glow. Despite its small size, the light provides powerful disinfection for viruses and bacteria that are either in the air or on directly exposed surfaces. In a typical dentist operatory that is about 100 square feet in dimension, the light obliterates the coronavirus easily and effectively, with a 99.9%or 3-log kill rate, that is similar to disinfection standards seen in hospital operating rooms.
There are different kinds of UV light in the environment: UV-A and UV-B are naturally found in sunlight and can cause skin damage, while UV-C light never makes it through the ozone layer. So UV-C light has to be manufactured and can either emit a long 254 nm wavelength, which is typically used for unoccupied spaces in hospitals because it is dangerous to the skin and eyes, or a short 222 nm wavelength, like the Krypton Far-UV light, which is safe for occupied public spaces when mounted on ceilings. It is important to use certified UV-C lights as there are many counterfeit lights that don’t work or hand-held wands that can be dangerous and are available on the internet.
Far UV-C light is absorbed by proteins on the outer envelope of the COVID-19 virus which kills the virus by zapping these spike proteins. It is thought to be more effective at killing COVID in the air because it essentially pops the envelope bubble and then the naked nuclear material (RNA) dies. It also is safe because it never penetrates the skin or surface of the eye due to absorption of light by proteins on the surfaces of the skin and the tear layer of the eye.
“It does its job and knocks things down. And it's safe for us to be in here,” Pavletic described.
Dr. Pavletic highlights these safety features on his website, making sure his patients are well-informed about how Krypton UV light has no effect on any of the dental materials he uses. While many of his patients are local, he’s had others drive a couple of hours, as far away as the Indianapolis area.
“When they’re in the chair, the hygienist will point out these things. With the different filters, there’s a vacuum type sound. But the light is silent, and usually it’s not noticed until pointed out,” Pavletic said.
As safety equipment becomes more necessary for businesses, the future of Far-UV technology could make its way into other essential businesses, such as restaurants, movie theaters, hotels, offices, schools, and airports.
“Safety measures are always evolving- it's a transition, and it's an improvement,” Pavletic said. “I'm really grateful for the technology that FAR UV Technologies has come up with because I can have an environment where we can be above and beyond in terms of safety. I would recommend Krypton Far-UV light disinfection to all of my dental colleagues”