Inivos’ Tautvydas Karitonas looks at infection control lessons learnt during the first peak of COVID-19
Tautvydas Karitonas from Inivos discusses infection control lessons learnt during the first peak of COVID-19, and explains how dental professionals should: “Use them to inform their approach going forward.”
Although dental practices can remain open during the second national lockdown, there continues to be an increased challenge in managing patient flow and ensuring viral spread is controlled. This has left many practitioners concerned about the future of the dental profession as Coronavirus disease 2019 – COVID-19 – cases continue to rise.
Research suggests that anywhere between 25% and 80% of cases are asymptomatic, which means carriers could be spreading the virus without their knowledge. There is also a delay between contracting the virus and the onset of symptoms, which can take up to fourteen days.
The risk of infection is heightened because SARS-CoV-2 is an airborne virus, which means that respiratory droplets can linger in the air for prolonged periods of time. As a result, the proactive decontamination of dental practices is crucial in keeping transmission risks to a minimum, and to ensure an environment is COVID-secure, it is vital that the decontamination technology deactivates airborne pathogens as well as surface microorganisms.
Guidelines state that to break the chain of infection, dental professionals must ensure they are decontaminating all areas of the practice, including treatment rooms and waiting areas – particularly after aerosol generating procedures (AGPs). As most dental treatments are considered AGPs, thorough decontamination after each patient is vital, which can be completed during the much debated “fallow period”.
We have found that ultraviolet-C (UV-C) decontamination is particularly suitable for dental practices, as it has a shorter action time than hydrogen peroxide vapour (HPV). This enables decontamination to be implemented between appointments, effectively removing pathogens and reducing infection risk.
Practices might also consider a professional Workplace Infection Prevention Assessment tool to identify risk factors and understand how to mitigate against them.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of effective decontamination and rigorous infection prevention and control programmes has become clear as clinical settings seek to prevent ongoing transmission of the pathogen.
The key life-saving role that infection control experts – such as infection control nurses and microbiologists – have played in keeping healthcare facilities open, must be acknowledged and championed.
By taking cues from the experts, investing in rigorous infection prevention and control programmes, and prioritising projects to minimise transmission risks, dental practices can help to limit the spread of COVID-19, and futureproof themselves against any future waves.
Tautvydas Karitonas is Head of Research and Development for Inivos, experts in infection prevention and control. For more information, visit https://www.hygiene-solutions.co.uk/