Once again we see a new virus jump to the frontline of the news. Dental professionals are more exposed than most to this type of infections, thus is our duty as health professionals to protect our patients, staff and community.
We’ve seen it with HIV, SARS, and TB, several diseases have found their way into the dental practice. Every time that we clean with an ultrasound or prepare a tooth with a handpiece, we are generating aerosols and splatter that can reach our equipment, ourselves and even get into the A/C systems. One case that comes to mind is one where a dentist with TB infected 5 patients during normal procedures. Another is the incredible case of a child with measles that infected 7 people at a doctor’s office, 2 of them in other rooms!
For COVID-19 we can make an educated guess on its characteristics based on the data already available and similarities to SARS. According to the CDC, respiratory droplets are the main source of infection and they have a high level of contagion both by direct inhalation and by contamination of surfaces. Therefore you should wash your hands, keep changing your facemask, use gloves and be on the lookout for the following threats.
Some diseases have clear and defined infection windows, and sometimes just showing symptoms should be enough to cancel a dental appointment. It is true, some diseases get transmitted through asymptomatic hosts, and emergency treatments are necessary. But if this is not the case, just go and ask that congested patient coughing in the waiting room to reschedule! Do it for everybody’s sake.
Even if we shut off the coolant water in our ultrasounds and handpieces, we would still generate hazardous aerosols during treatment when contacting saliva or tissue of the infected patient. The solution lies in vacuuming the aerosols before they even leave the mouth. Change from a Low-Volume Evacuation device to a High-Volume Evacuation device, such as Purple Tip, that was designed to reduce the quantity and range of spray generated, while maximizing maneuverability and comfort.
The most common culprit of dangerous cross infections is the use of contaminated equipment. We’ve seen terrible cases of badly sterilized equipment harming hundreds of patients, product of carelessness when cleaning or faulty protocols. Disposable barriers for equipment protection or disposable devices are necessary to reduce contagion. We designed Purple Tip as a disposable device that is 100% recyclable to balance safeness and environmental consciousness.
 Standard and Transmission-Based Precautions An update for dentistry, JADA, vol 141 may 2010.
Aerosols and splatter in dentistry A brief review of the literature and infection control implications, JADA, Vol. 135, April 2004