Sanitary procedures have always been of the utmost importance in your practice.
First and foremost, these efforts protect patients and staff from potential infections. It also reflects your overall professionalism as a healthcare provider. And it gives you peace of mind in knowing you’re doing things the right way.
But with changing times come new standards and expectations. The pandemic has made many industry professionals ramp up their cleaning and sterilization efforts, whether with mechanical equipment or PPE.
One example of these crucial in-practice safety/sanitary procedures is sterilizing and maintaining your face shield. As of 2021, face shields are a necessity for dental practitioners, and they require specialized cleaning and sterilization protocols.
Why Face Shields are a Priority
- Better Coverage than Standard PPE
Face shields go beyond the limitations of masks and goggles because they cover your eyes, nose, and mouth all at once.
- Superior Comfort
These clear plastic visors increase comfort while you work because there’s space between your face and the shield. As a result, less facial heat is retained, dermal irritation is reduced, and you won’t feel claustrophobic.
- Won’t Disrupt Work
Other pieces of facial PPE tend to disrupt your other work, whereas face shields allow you to speak and breathe with relative ease.
- Seamless Cleaning Process
Facial shields are also easy to put on and remove. As such, they prevent the spread of germs, allowing for easier disinfecting between patients.
- Blends Easily with Other PPE
While face shields protect you from body fluids being splashed on you, they don’t create an airtight seal around your mouth, meaning they still allow you to inhale airborne particles. However, face shields combine seamlessly with N95 masks, respirators, and other PPEs to add one more line of defense against germs and bacteria.
- Provides Safety in High-Risk Areas and Stop Community Spread of COVID-19
A recent report in JAMA notes that face shields are beneficial in high risk areas and can play a vital role in stopping the community spread of COVID-19.
Before the pandemic, not much was known about face shield sterilization because not many dentists wore them. So, in response to this new industry standard, DentistryIQ established some best practices so face shields can be used safely and maintained for long-term usage:
- Submerging the face shield in warm water will loosen particulate material, helping avoid surface scratches.
- Adding a mild liquid dish cleaner to the warm water will lessen surface tension. This also ensures the even dispersal of soapy water across the surface.
- Experts recommend using a sponge or soft cloth to clean the shield gently, then rinsing it in clear, non-soapy water before drying with a microfiber cloth or soft cotton towel.
- While disinfectant wipes or sprays will disinfect and sterilize, the residue left behind is visible and requires removal.
- Follow the specific instructions of whatever disinfectant you use, including the contact time. Wet contact time can be anywhere between 30 seconds and 4 minutes.
- Another option for disinfecting your facial shield, while keeping it clear, is a 70% alcohol wipe. Be mindful when using this method that you must remove the bioburden before disinfecting.
What Cleaners SHOULDN’T You Use to Sterilize Your Face-Shield?
DentistryIQ also points out that all ammonia-based household cleaners should be avoided. Similarly, don’t use glass-cleaning products.
The types of cleaners mentioned above damage the plastic on your shield, causing the unremovable clouding of surfaces.
Toothpaste and other commercial cleaners that contain grit will cause damage to the shield as well. Moreover, paper towels cause microscopic scratches and should be avoided.
Run a compatibility test to ensure a disinfectant won’t cause damage by applying a small amount of the cleaner at the edge of the face shield. You can test somewhere else on the shield; just ensure it isn’t in your line of sight.
High-Quality Face Shields for Dental Professionals
Most generic, consumer-grade face shields aren’t designed to meet a dentist professional’s needs. They have a thin piece of plastic, attached to a headband, that hangs in front of the face. Unfortunately, this allows droplets to escape and breach the area between the shield and face.
High-quality face shields like the Canadian Shield face shield ensures these gaps are covered, using a flanged perimeter traveling ear-to-ear, over the forehead, and beneath the chin. The all-plastic construction of the Canadian Shield makes it easy to sanitize and reuse. It is designed to be both comfortable and compatible with other personal protective equipment, such as N95 masks and safety goggles.
Contact us to learn more about the Canadian Shield and other PPE solutions for your dental office.