Air purifiers in dentist offices can help reduce COVID-19 spread and help protect dental patients. This is important as dentist offices may be high-risk areas for COVID-19 spread. This article covers COVID-19 protection in dentist offices, including masks and air purifiers as possible means of reducing virus transmission for dentists and dental clinic workers.
The CDC released guidance for dental practices and settings recently. They recommend that dentists screen patients intensively and wear face masks. But what else can dental clinics do to protect their workers and their patients? Let’s break this down into 2 parts: masks and air purifiers (filters).
Using Air Purifiers to Filter COVID-19 in Dentist Offices
But there’s a problem. Dental patients often have to remove their mask for a dental operation or surgery. In those cases, using an air purifier may be another way to help reduce the spread of any viruses.
One group of researchers from North Carolina studied the distance the influenza virus could spread in a hospital environment. They measured how far influenza virus particles could spread from 94 people in the emergency department and ICU of a hospital. This environment is fairly similar to a dental office, where the patient is lying down in a chair.
The scientists found lots of virus particles 1 foot and 3 feet away from the patient. But at a distance of 6ft (1.8m), there were a lot fewer virus particles in the air.
This data suggests (perhaps not surprisingly) that the area directly around the patient is the most likely to contain the virus. That means it is the most critical to capture and purify the air directly around the patient. Air purifiers that use HEPA filters are able to filter out viruses including COVID-19.
Filters and Air Purifiers Suitable For Dentist Offices
The next step is to modify the air purifier to suit the dentist office. The good news is, dentists from across the world have been contacting Smart Air to tell us how they’ve been modifying their air purifiers to meet the needs of their dentist offices. One dentist from the UK modified the Smart Air Blast Mini to attach a pipe to the inlet of the Blast Mini.
They modified the Blast Mini using a vacuum cleaner tube with a funnel on the end. This funnel can then be used to point directly at the patient.
This tube sucks away air from near the patient’s head and sends it through a HEPA filter to capture virus particles. This dental office setup should be able to signifcantly reduce the amount of covid (and other virus) particles in the air.
Masks in Dentist Offices
The CDC recommends surgical masks or cloth face coverings be worn at all times by dental health-care personnel. With surgical masks being preferred.
Data shows that surgical masks and N95 masks can both filter out virus-sized particles, including the coronavirus. What’s more, DIY masks can too. Thus, ensuring that staff and visitors wear masks throughout the day is an effective way of reducing the chance of virus transmission.