As many areas reach Phase Two, the economy is beginning to re-open throughout North America. Even densely populated areas with higher COVID rates, such as Toronto, are emerging from stasis.
Slowly but surely, the streets are filling with people, and businesses are resuming their operations.
That means that, now more than ever, your dental practice needs to place a microscope on your cleaning and disinfecting procedures. The reasons are threefold:
- You want to put your clientele at ease, giving them confidence that you can maintain a safe environment.
- You must protect yourself, your staff, and your community from potential outbreaks.
- Given the nature of the work, dental practices already deal with an excess of germs; and dental professionals are at a higher risk of transmission than most.
Recently, the EPA & CDC published new guidelines on best cleaning and disinfecting practices. Here’s a link to the entire document, but we’ll break down the most crucial points in this blog.
Building The Framework of Your Cleaning & Disinfecting Plan for Re-Opening
When implementing a system for cleaning and disinfection of your practice, experts recommend you should craft a plan in these three stages:
- Evaluate your office/practice and assess the surfaces and materials that comprise the space.
- Light switches, doorknobs, and other regular areas will need extra attention paid for cleaning and disinfection to reduce the risk of spreading germs.
- Now it’s time to execute on what you’ve developed.
- To ensure optimal cleaning/disinfecting, thoroughly read the manufacturer's instructions for all products.
- During any cleaning and disinfecting, ensure that you’re wearing gloves and other required personal protective equipment (PPE).
3. Maintenance and Revision
- Continue to update your implemented plan based on evolving guidelines.
- Also, keep an eye out for potential blind-spots you might have had during the development stage.
How to Properly Clean & Disinfect a Surface
People tend to conflate ‘cleaning’ and ‘disinfecting’ when they’re really two separate processes. One valuable source of information breaks down the dual-process in very straightforward terms:
- For cleaning, your primary focus is the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. This way, you’ll mitigate the potential for infections to spread.
- After cleaning is when disinfectant products do their best work. They kill the lingering germs on surfaces, thus further offsetting the possible spread of infection.
As has been established in the previous section, wear gloves and any other necessary PPE to keep yourself safe. Given that you’re working in a dental office, additional protective equipment should be considered.
Clearing Up the Confusion: Cleaners Versus Disinfectants
Cleaning can be performed with water and either soap or detergent.
Conversely, disinfectants are generally sprays, concentrates, and wipes—all of which can be employed in preventing COVID-19.
According to the EPA and CDC, following the product label instructions is a non-negotiable must. Doing so will keep you informed on how long you should leave products on the surfaces to successfully eliminate germs. There’s also the matter of rinsing the product so that you don’t ingest harmful chemicals. Plus, you want to keep those products out of the reach of children.
Something else to consider is that it’s been suggested not to overuse or stockpile both disinfectants and PPEs. Given the current circumstances and the need to combat COVID-19, you need to do your part in preventing shortages in the case of emergencies.
Lastly, you might experience a situation where the EPA's requested disinfectants aren't accessible. In this instance, those same guidelines establish other ways to disinfect surfaces that are equally effective at staving off COVID-19.
Click here for a list of CDC and EPA-requested disinfectants.
Other Crucial EPA & CDC Guidelines to Consider
Naturally, running a dental practice exposes you, your staff, and your clients to an array of excess germs compared to the average business.
Thus, measures must be in place to protect everyone who'll come into contact with your practice and the surrounding community. This means stringent social distancing rules must be maintained.
Furthermore, all practice staff should be wearing cloth face coverings and frequently washing their hands. Keep on top of federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local guidelines as they continue to evolve and shift in nature.
Adapting to the New Normal
These guidelines might seem a little bit intense, and something of a headache on top of everything else required to run your practice. After all, being successful in the dental industry requires in-depth focus and dedication outside of keeping your office COVID-proof.
However, maintaining these cleaning and disinfecting standards contributes to the greater good of society. All while keeping your practice safe. And eventually, at least until there’s a vaccine, these methods will slowly become second nature.
Above all else, you’ll find that these measures offer you tremendous peace of mind!