Four changes to infection prevention and control that made a difference
Revisiting Critical Updates that Address Infection Risks
At this time last year, we were all collectively reeling from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and dealing with the confusion, uncertainty, and anxiety of managing a new virus. And, amid an unprecedented shutdown that nearly ground dentistry to a complete halt, practices pivoted on the fly to implement new infection prevention and control procedures that would enable them to continue practicing safely.
The past year has not been easy. But the good news is that the Herculean effort that dental professionals put in to improve infection prevention and control seems to have paid off. In a recent study conducted by the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Dental Hygienist Association (ADHA), researchers found that only 3.1% of surveyed dental hygienists had ever tested positive or been diagnosed with COVID-19 as of October 2020, despite being a high-risk group.
Additionally, the development and distribution of effective vaccines have already positively impacted the industry, with dental professionals receiving vaccinations at high rates. Recently, DrBicuspid surveyed their membership and reported that “Nearly 80% of dental professionals have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.”
As infection rates among hygienists remain low and vaccination rates continue to rise, we may be turning a corner with the virus. But, if there is one lasting lesson from the last year, it’s that the risk of infections is ever-present, and infection prevention and control will remain a critical issue indefinitely.
Dental professionals have gone above-and-beyond to address infection risks and keep their practices safe. Here are four critical changes that practices made (and should continue to make) in order to keep up the good work:
- Stringent Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Use
- Improved Aerosol Management Practices
- Better Engineering and Administrative Controls
- Enhanced Preparedness