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Knowing About PPE per CDC Guidance: Staying Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic
As patient, you may not that the use of PPE per CDC guidance is important to reduce exposure to hazards that may lead to injuries or illness in the workplace. Also called personal protective equipment, PPE is worn over the body for protection. The CDC guidance in this article is to help patients understand how dental professionals at the dental office stay safe throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.
Importance of using the PPE
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is created to protect dental professionals from exposure to infectious agents. PPE is suitable for different forms of patient interactions and covers personal clothing and skin that could be exposed to contamination by blood, bodily fluids, saliva and other potentially infectious agents. PPE includes face masks, gloves, face shields, protective eyewear and protective clothing, including reusable or protective gown, laboratory coat, jacket.
Using the PPC per CDC Guidance
Examples of the appropriate use of PPE per CDC guidance include the following.
PPE: PPE should be worn when there is a risk of exposure to or contact with spatter or spray, which could potentially contain infectious materials. PPE should be taken off when leaving the work area.
Masks, Protective Eyewear, Face Shields: Dental professionals wear surgical masks and either eye protection with solid side shields or face shields to guard the mucous membrane of the nasal, oral and conjunctival area. The facial mask is changed between patients or if it gets wet while treating a patient. Reusable face protection or shields are cleaned between patients using soap and water. Cleaning and disinfection are necessary if visibly contaminated.
Protective Clothing: The gowns and lab coat need to cover the skin and personal clothing that may be soiled with blood, saliva and bodily fluids. The protective clothing must be changed if visibly soiled.
Gloves: Gloves prevent contamination of the dental professional’s hands when touching blood, saliva, mucous membranes or other likely infectious materials. It minimizes the risk of transmitting microorganisms from the hands of the dentist to the patient during a dental procedure. Wearing gloves does not remove or replace the need to wash hands before, during or after the procedure.
Patient examination gloves are used for laboratory procedures, patient care, examinations, and other non-surgical treatments that involve contact with mucous membranes. They are disposed of after a single use. Surgeon gloves are used for surgical procedures and discarded after use on a single patient. Dental professionals must wear a new pair of gloves for every patient, remove the gloves after treatment and wash their hands immediately. Medical gloves should not be washed, disinfected or sterilized for reuse.
Safe practices for dental professionals include:
- Limit contact with surfaces and items
- Change torn gloves
- Avoid touching the face with gloved hands
- Remove PPE when leaving the work environment
- Wash hands immediately after taking off the PPE
Dental professionals have been trained to use PPE per CDC guidance. This means learning to select and wear the correct PPE and take them off in a way that reduces contamination of skin or clothing. Hand hygiene is usually the final step after taking off and disposing of the PPE.
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