Travis Spillman always had a clean dentist office. It’s gotten even cleaner since his practice, Dental Center of Lakewood, reopened May 11 after closing for routine cleanings and procedures because of the coronavirus.

“I feel very safe in my office,” Spillman said. “I’ve walked into places where I’ve turned around and walked out.”

Spillman’s staff already wore personal protective equipment and sterilized instruments and surface areas, but the dentist is upping his cleaning efforts to prevent the spread of the virus. These are the safety protocols Spillman has put in place:

  • In addition to normal N95 masks, Spillman and his team will wear face shields over them. “I converted a big welder’s mask,” he said. “I took the tinted part out and replaced it with a clear one. I can use my light behind it. It wraps all the way around my head and my chin.” Staff members wear washable and disposable gowns between each patient.
  • Staff are subject to daily health screenings. Their temperatures are taken each day with a touchless thermometer and logged to see if they increase over time. If a staff member has a temperature above 100 degrees, the person is asked to leave the office. Staff must also report if they have coronavirus symptoms, such as shortness of breath, cough or a sore throat.
  • Patients are pre-screened 24 hours before their appointment. They are asked if they have tested positive for coronavirus, if they are awaiting test results or if they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive. They must pass a similar screening and temperature test on the day of their appointment.
  • From patients to staff, the number of people in the office is limited. One adult can accompany a minor. If an older adult needs a companion, the person is asked to wait in the car. Patient appointments are no longer staggered. They are scheduled back to back to minimize contact.
  • In the waiting room, Spillman has installed clear barriers at the check-in and check-out counter. Paperwork is limited, and once a pen is used, the patient can keep it, or it’s thrown away. All magazines, toys and remote controls have been removed from the waiting area. All high-touch surfaces are disinfected, and hand sanitizer is spread throughout the room.
  • Spillman bought a pathogen-reduction air filter called CASPR, which utilizes ultraviolet light to kill viruses, bacteria and molds. “COVID-19 isn’t that hard to kill, it’s just highly contagious,” Spillman said. “Cleaning products do a really good job with it. This is another level. You don’t have to wipe because it’s continuous disinfection. It can’t hurt.”
  • The work day is shortened from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Staff are not allowed to leave for lunch and then return to the office.

“In the dental world, we’re really good with infection control,” Spillman said. “This pathogen is airborne and new. With that, there are new extremes. We’re taking the most extreme measures that we can to still see patients.”

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