Infection control and air quality

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  Posted by: The Probe      13th February 2021

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, infection control has become a hot topic across all industries, especially those on the front line. Dentistry is no different. From keeping up with changing government guidelines to the introduction of extra safety measures for staff and patients alike, the pandemic has changed the way that we think about infection control and what this means for our personal safety.

This is why it’s important for professionals to understand disease transmission and to look into all options of achieving extra protection in practice.

Surface transmission

Viruses, bacteria and other pathogens can be spread in multiple ways. In many settings the focus is primarily on disinfecting surfaces, and this is because surface colonisation is one of the most common ways for diseases to spread. After all, if an infected individual coughs or sneezes into their hands and then touches something like a doorknob or a counter, pathogens will spread to this surface and survive there too. Once on these surfaces, it’s easy for another person to touch the same place, especially in busy areas with lots of people. In this way, peoples can contract whatever disease is there by touching their own face or mouth, giving the pathogens a chance to infiltrate their defences.

This is especially worrying as many viruses and bacteria can survive and even continue to multiply on surfaces for a long time, remaining infectious and potentially spreading to numerous individuals. For example, COVID-19 is able to survive on a wide range of surfaces for significant amounts of time. Though this varies depending on the absorbability and properties of the material or surface it lands on, it is generally thought that the virus survives at least 24 hours on the majority of surfaces. In some cases, may even be able to remain infectious for up to 3 days on materials such as plastic and stainless steel.[i]

It’s absolutely essential that surface cleaning is properly undertaken in practice. This means following government guidelines and all infection control protocols, as well as using appropriately powerful cleaning products that can successfully eradicate the majority of harmful pathogens.

However, what about other modes of disease transmission?

Direct contact

Direct contact between an infected individual and someone not carrying disease is a highly effective way for illnesses to spread. This contact can be anything from a hug or a handshake – basically any contact which could transmit pathogens from the skin or mouth of a person directly to that of another.

 

Of course, this sort of human contact has already been heavily restricted (not that you would necessarily hug your patients anyway!) but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a good idea to ensure that PPE and social distancing are still enforced properly and that no slip ups occur in practice.

Something in the air

As well as surviving on surfaces and infected individuals, diseases can easily be spread through air transmission. When a person sneezes or coughs, they expel respiratory droplets in a fine haze that can remain suspended in the air and still be infectious for hours at a time

A lot of illnesses are spread this way, including significant threats such as COVID-19, and influenza. In fact, research has suggested that COVID-19 remains in the air for as long as three hours, giving it ample time to be breathed in by others.[ii] As such, it’s worth considering ways to keep the air in your practice as clean and sterile as possible. There has been a recent surge in airborne disinfectants, which is well worth looking into, but there’s also the opportunity to see if your air compressor is providing sterile air, especially as this air is used directly in treatment.

DentalAir is on hand to help ensure that your air compressor provides sterile, safe-to-use air for your practice. Regardless of whether you want to keep your existing air compressor model or upgrade to a new one, DentalAir has a breakdown and maintenance policy suitable for you that will give you the benefit of secure breakdown cover, as well as air quality checks, regular maintenance and more.

Every level of protection matters

Infection control is going to remain a high priority in the future, and this means that you need to consider this essential part of your daily routines from every angle. It goes without saying that surface cleaning and other infection control protocols are vital, but you can also help lower the risk by ensuring that your air compressor is safe and sterile too.

 

For more information, please contact DentalAir at info@dentalair.com or call 0800 975 7530

 

[i] UK Research and Innovation. How Long Can Coronavirus Survive Outside the Human Body? Link: https://coronavirusexplained.ukri.org/en/article/pub0008/ [Last accessed November20].

[ii] UK Research and Innovation. How Long Can Coronavirus Survive Outside the Human Body? Link: https://coronavirusexplained.ukri.org/en/article/pub0008/ [Last accessed November20].


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