PPE for Which Dental Procedures During COVID-19?
by Katie Palmer 08/13/2020
Dental employees are at the highest risk for getting COVID-19. As a result, employers need to know how to protect their employees. Most importantly, personal protective equipment (PPE) stops the spread of the virus.
Dental offices could spread the virus easily. However, Dr. John Blake explains, “The dental office, if they have proper PPE, is much safer than going to the supermarket.”
Which factors decide PPE for dental employees during COVID-19?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides PPE guidelines for dentists during the pandemic. Above all, OSHA suggests that employees choose PPE based on two factors:
- The procedure taking place
- The health status of patient
What dental PPE does OSHA recommend during COVID-19?
Firstly, OSHA recommends PPE for two types of procedures. The first type includes care for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients. The second type are procedures that generate aerosols on healthy patients.
For these procedures, OSHA suggests wearing:
- Eye protection (goggles, face shield)
- NIOSH-certified disposable N95 filtering facepiece respirator
Meanwhile, for procedures that don’t generate aerosols on healthy patients, OSHA suggests wearing:
- Work clothing (such as scrubs)
- Eye protection
- Surgical mask
Potential COVID-19 patients vs. healthy patients: what’s the difference?
OSHA differentiates suspected COVID-19 patients and healthy patients. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports 80% of Coronavirus cases are mild or asymptomatic.
To clarify, many patients have the virus without symptoms, yet they are contagious. As a result, the American Dental Association (ADA) says to treat every patient as if they have the virus. This would mean wearing the correct dental PPE for COVID-19 procedures with every patient.
Are your dental employees using respirators?
If your dental employees use respirators, check out our blog posts:
- Does my Dental Practice Need a Respiratory Protection Program?
- How to Create your Respiratory Protection Program on Smart Training’s LMS
- OSHA Guidance on the Respirator Shortage
- December 2020 update: Texas Dentists: Title 22 Extended, Requires Respirators
Smart Training: Keep Your Employees Safe
To sum up, the Coronavirus pandemic poses new safety hazards. In addition, the pandemic has spurred new OSHA guidance.
In conclusion, our free dental-specific COVID-19 training module will guide your team on proper safety techniques and help avoid a breakout in your office.