The need to limit the spread of COVID-19 has led many dental offices to close to all but urgent and emergency cases, such as those involving pain, swelling, or the breakage or loss of teeth.
While oral health’s role as a driver of overall health makes dentistry a crucial specialty within healthcare, the unique nature of many dental procedures raises unique challenges in the face of the current pandemic, underscoring the need to limit treatments at this time.
Instruments such as rotary handpieces, ultrasonic scalers, and air/water syringes create a visible spray that contains droplets of water, saliva, blood, microoragnisms, and other debris. Though it doesn’t travel far, it settles on surrounding surfaces, as well as the patient and dental team.
Even when following all standard infection control guidelines and special COVID-19 recommendations to a T, most dental clinics and offices simply are not equipped to limit spray and aerosols as advised by the CDC and other authorities.
This, however, is not the case with most biological dental offices. Because of our awareness of the need for extreme precautions while removing mercury amalgam fillings, biological dental offices include ample gear and equipment for limiting spray, aerosols, and other forms of contamination.
Common protective gear in the biological office includes disposable or washable gowns and hair coverings for staff and patients, face shields and other eye protection for staff and patients, and respiratory-grade masks for the dental team and a sealed mask delivering oxygen to the patient.
Operatories are equipped with high-volume air filtration systems and oral aerosol vacuums that quickly pull vapors, aerosols, and other contaminants away from the patient’s breathing space. High-speed suction is available to remove contaminants from the mouth.
Additionally, many biological dental offices use ozonated water, both for keeping their water lines clean and for treating infection in their patients’ mouths. Ozone is one of the most powerful disinfectants available, effective against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Yet it is nontoxic and completely safe, with no known side effects.
Because biological dentistry recognizes the multifaceted relationship between oral and overall health, many practitioners hold certifications in naturopathic medicine and related specialties. Consequently, those biological dentists are well prepared to also provide guidance on protecting overall health and well-being through and beyond this crisis.
Such practices make biological dental offices particularly well-suited for providing emergency care through these days of sheltering in place – and for instilling confidence in patients once normal activities, including elective dental care, are allowed to resume. When it comes to infection control, we are far ahead of the curve.