CDC Infection Control: Reducing Outpatient Visits With Teledentistry During COVID-19
Dentists were largely forced to suspend their service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Teledentistry can be an innovative solution for them in this time of crisis, as it allows dentists and patients a face-to-face interaction from afar via virtual reality technology.
Teledentistry is the use of telehealth systems and methodologies in dentistry. Telehealth refers to a broad variety of technologies and tactics that are used for delivering virtual medical, health, or education services.
The Role of ADA and CDC
To protect patients and hospitals across the country, on March 16th 2020, the American Dental Association recommended postponing elective dental procedures until April 6th 2020. This recommendation was updated on April 1st when they advised offices to remain closed for all but urgent or emergency services. As a result access to much-needed care is substantially decreased with some Americans not having any options.
CDC recommended the use of additional infection prevention and control practices during the COVID-19 pandemic, along with standard practices recommended as a part of routine dental healthcare delivery to all patients. These measures are intended to apply to everyone not just those with suspected or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have highlighted considerations when it comes to elective procedures, surgeries, and non-urgent outpatient visits.
The CDC has a lot of knowledge about how the viruses behave in different environments. Their guidelines are based on what they know about air travel’s impact on spreading disease as well as other factors like population density or contact rates with people who might be infected. It is important to listen closely when the CDC recommends postponing certain elective procedures, surgeries and non-urgent outpatient visits in some circumstances.
Advance Teledentistry to Bridge Access Gaps
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust alternative modalities such as teledentistry to the forefront of policy considerations. Teledentistries’s unique ability to connect disadvantaged communities and those who are homebound with dental providers makes it especially well-suited for addressing lack of access during or after a disaster, like when there is little time and space available due a pandemic outbreak.
Teledentistry can be used to avoid the burden of people seeking dental care at overwhelmed emergency departments and urgent dental cares settings. A teledentistry is a healthcare professional who consults with patients remotely by using videoconferencing, digital imaging technologies and electronic health records (EHR). Tele Dentists are able to see images taken from cameras in your mouth as well as review medical records on their computer screen. The use of this technology may provide an alternative for those needing immediate attention while not being available during normal business hours or when many offices are closed due only limited space in hospitals.
COVID-19 has made a significant difference for dental clinics. The consequence of limited public and private insurance reimbursement, as well as legislative barriers to teledentistry before COVID-19 is gone. Now that emergency reimbursements are available after the pandemic, we recommend legislators keep telemedicine at the forefront with improved regulations to increase accessibility like those used by medical providers today.
Before COVID-19 many states inhibited use of teledentistry through legislation and lack of regulation which prevented it from being able to catch up with dentistry in terms or restrictions on availability within healthcare facilities due primarily because there was no clear set guidelines or protocols when deciding whether an office visit phone call would be considered medically necessary.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises dental practices to balance necessary services while minimizing the risk of spreading COVID-19. Dental healthcare personnel are advised not only to consult state boards, but also their local health departments to stay up to date on any changes in guidelines that may affect them based on where they live or work.
To keep your dental office compliant with the CDC Infection Control Guidelines, it is imperative that effective internal communication and training is provided to each of your employees. Hayes Handpiece Repair offers an in-house or virtual training on CDC Dental Guidelines and Infection Control.
For our other list of in-house and online training, you may also visit the links below:
Hayes specializes in various dental handpiece repair and dental instrument sharpening and retipping. Our experienced technicians have decades of experience working with all major brands of dental handpieces including:
Sterilize Your Handpiece
Remove the dental bur from the handpiece, wipe down the exterior & insert it into the pouch/bag. Sterilize handpiece as per manufacturer’s instructions. Always allow the dental handpiece to go through a dry cycle on your sterilizer (if there is a dry cycle on it). Remove the handpiece from the autoclave when the process is complete.
In order to avoid damaging your device, make sure you know the best way of sterilizing it. There are several different methods that can be used for this purpose and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. A dry heat method is not recommended because it will damage any bearings in contact with the machine so we recommend using a gas or steam system instead if possible as they reduce drying time but have an increased risk of potential contamination from outside sources like dust particles.
Never exceed 275ºF (135°C) during the sterilization cycle; use the lowest temperature possible while still achieving proper sterilization of instruments. Subjecting bearings to higher temperatures can cause materials to break down and crack, so handpieces should only be used at room temperature when they are not in operation. Never cool them under cold running water for quick cool downs-quick cooler might actually damage turbine components! If dry heat is utilized on your machine instead, you will have excessive heating that will result in premature failure unless it’s being done properly by trained professionals who know what they’re doing with an infra-red oven or gas heater.
Allow the Autoclave Cycle to Finish
After a long day at work, it can be tempting to just “wing” the autoclave cycle and get your handpiece out of there as soon as possible. But if you’re not careful, you could end up with an even worse case: premature failure! That’s why we recommend three handpieces per operator-one in use, one ready for use while another is being sterilized by running through the cycles or waiting until they are cool enough to handle without risking damage.
Lubricate Your Dental Handpieces
Lubricating your handpieces is an important job. You should always clean them after you have used them and before the next use, so they will last longer! Handpiece spindle/chucks are lubricated once a day with the pointed lubricant adaptor – make sure to apply enough oil too.
Preventing premature handpiece failure with proper care and maintenance is easy. Always clean, lubricate, and sterilize your equipment after every patient visit.