As state and local governments across the country begin to relax their restrictions around COVID-19, private businesses are faced with questions about which COVID-related requirements to adopt and how to enforce them.
To date, 14 states have officially lifted their mask mandates, with others planning to follow suit now that the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention has updated its recommendations for vaccinated individuals. According to the most recent CDC guidelines, vaccinated people can now safely gather indoors with other vaccinated people and with unvaccinated people from a single household.
Dental offices face a unique set of challenges when it comes to enforcing COVID-related restrictions. Unlike other medical settings where masks can stay safely in place for the duration of a visit or procedure, dentists and hygienists need to be working in the patient’s mouth and airway.
COVID-19 is typically spread through large respiratory droplets emitted when an infected person coughs or sneezes, but it can also be transmitted through airborne droplets in exhaled breath. This potentially poses an increased risk to those sharing space with an infected person in a dental setting.
The CDC has released a list of recommendations for infection control in dental settings during the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
- Proactively communicate the need for staff and patients to stay at home if sick.
Consider postponing elective procedures, surgeries, and non-urgent outpatient visits.
- Provide treatment only after you have considered both the risk to the patient of deferring care and the risk of healthcare-associated SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
- Telephone screen all patients who need dental care before they come into an office or dental setting.
- Ask patients to limit the number of visitors accompanying him or her to the dental appointment to only those who are necessary.
- Ask all visitors accompanying patients to wear masks or face coverings for the duration of the dental visit.
- Install physical barriers at reception areas to limit close contact between staff and patients.
- Remove all magazines, toys and shared items or objects from the waiting room.
- Provide hand sanitizer and other disinfecting materials for patients and staff.
- Screen everyone who enters the building for fever and other COVID-19 symptoms.
A complete list of the CDC guidelines for dental offices and settings can be found here.
Life Balance Technologies helps hospitals and companies easily identify airborne infection risks and effectively manage their HVAC systems. By streamlining the process for compliance, auditing, and reporting, we help reduce costs and save lives.