Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, nearly every industry has adapted in the name of health and safety. Dental offices have faced a particularly difficult challenge of doing so, because staff must be in close proximity to unmasked patients, which puts them at risk of transmission. Boyd’s recent innovations, such as the Dental Aerosols Collector, Patient Divider Panels, and more have helped offices evolve to meet this new-world needs, but many are wondering: after COVID, what can we expect to stay?
Dental Anxiety Post-COVID
Dental anxiety has become an entirely more complex issue than it was before COVID-19. Before the pandemic, fears surrounding dental appointments were often able to be addressed with clear communication, relaxation techniques, or sedation dentistry if necessary. These were fears that, although valid, may have been unrealistic.
Post-COVID, going to the dentist may cause anxiety even in patients who previously didn’t feel any. This fear of getting sick is widespread and unlikely to go away soon, even post-COVID. It will take more effort to ease patient anxiety than before, although practicing clear communication and following the CDC guidelines is a good start. One of the most important tools to reassure nervous patients is a safety-first office design.
Creating a Safety-First Office Design
Choice of Materials
Following CDC protocols and sterilizing between patients are very important steps, and can be made more efficient and successful by adjusting your office design accordingly. For instance, sterilization is most effective on materials like vinyl and metal-- which are easily cleaned and have a high resistance to chemical disinfectants. Materials like fabric, wood, or upholstery are harder to clean and may degrade after a long period of being exposed to chemical disinfectants. So, think about what materials you have in your office and consider replacing them with vinyl/metal for long-term cleaning efficiency and safety in your workplace!
Waiting Room Design
Redesigning your waiting room can have benefits to office safety as well as efficiency. Furniture should be moved so that patients in the waiting room can practice safe distance from others, and hygiene supplies like hand sanitizer and masks made readily available. Creating a color scheme with cool colors like blues and greens can also help ease patient anxiety.
Separate Exam Bays
Many dental practices have open or semi-open bay designs, which help save space and increase efficiency, as well as help patients relax. However, because there are so many aerosols in a dental workspace, this can be an infection control hazard and a new point of anxiety for patients. To adapt for more safety, you may consider using permanent or semi-permanent space dividers, which help stop particles from reaching other areas of the bay.
Our Patient Divider Panel is an example of a space divider, and is long lasting and stands up to harsh chemical disinfectants. It comes with a stainless steel mounting system, so it can be a semi-permanent solution which is removed later on, or a permanent solution you choose to keep! We also offer a Dental Aerosols Collector, which allows hands-free aerosol collection to help reduce the risk of viral transmission during dental care. This device is adjustable, can be fitted to any dental chair and doesn’t take up the space other bulky aerosol collecting machines do. We’ve received positive feedback on how easy our aerosols collector was to use and clean, but most importantly how safe their patients felt in the operatory space.
According to the CDC, you should “set up operatories so that only the clean or sterile supplies and instruments needed for the dental procedure are readily accessible,” and “any supplies and equipment that are exposed but not used during the procedure should be considered contaminated and should be disposed of or reprocessed properly after completion of the procedure.” These strict guidelines will require extra storage space and faster sterilization equipment, so you’ll want to make sure your cabinets and sterilization equipment are up to par. Consider our Prestige Carts for your storage space, which are a versatile addition to all dental specialties and work best in a surgical office. With these, each operatory can contain its own respective supplies to help mitigate the chance of contamination and increase workplace efficiency. They are also mobile, so when you need to they can be transported easily!
Furthermore, our Sterilization Center is a good example of a workspace that offers efficient sterilization and ample storage space to help follow the CDC guidelines without compromising workflow. Our sterilization centers are offered in standard configurations and also able to be custom-built to fit the aesthetic and functional needs of the office, with countless combinations of laminate, solid surface, and edge banding options to choose from.
As practices begin to settle into the new way of operating in the post-COVID environment, they'll become more comfortable and confident in getting back to pre-COVID volumes.Sources: https://www.dentaleconomics.com/dental-office-design/article/14183231/dental-office-design-in-a-covid-world https://www.smileperfected.com/reopen-dental-office-post-covid-19/ https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/dental-settings.html