By: Patti DiGangi, RDH, BS
The World Health Organization (WHO) declares the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic screams the headlines. Covid-19 puts into sharp focus the importance of standard precautions and infection prevention. With fear running rampant, as dental professionals, we can know that our standard precautions training and education will keep us as safe as possible…if we follow them consistently.
The Organization for Safety, Asepsis, and Prevention (OSAP) talks about creating a Culture of Safety. It involves a commitment to the safety of patients and personnel by everyone in the organization (office/institution), including management. OSAP’s Summary of Infection Prevention Practices in Dental Settings Basic Expectations for Safe Care is a concise document that outlines the steps that must be taken by all practice personnel when turning over a room between patients. This includes dental unit water lines and vacuum systems.
The mode of transmission of the Covid-19 virus is still not completely clear. Water quality safety has never been more important. The narrow gauge of the dental unit waterline makes them a breeding ground for biofilm growth and the potential spread of infection. Bacteria and other microorganisms form a biofilm, which adheres to the inside of the tubing that supplies water to the dental instruments. As water moves through the tubing or waterline, microorganisms slough off into the water, thus contaminating it. Spraying water can spread viruses and infections.
The guidelines calls for flushing dental water lines for a minimum of 20 to 30 seconds after each patient, from any device connected to the dental water system that enters the patient’s mouth (for example, handpieces, ultrasonic scalers, and air/water syringes) as well as at the beginning and end of the patient day. This step is often skipped in a desire to stay on schedule.
The same is true for our evacuation system. Suction lines should be cleaned every day with an evacuation system cleaner to remove blood and debris, and a disinfectant that is compatible with the evacuation system should be run through the tubing. Monarch CleanStream has a unique formulation designed for daily cleaning. It penetrates and helps remove line buildup while maintaining vacuum performance and suction.
These important steps from OSAP could save a life, maybe even yours.