Our dental clinic in Burlington is participating with The Provincial Antigen Screening Program, which allows organizations to add an additional safety measure in workplaces to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of our patients and staff. We obtained the Panbio COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test kits by Abbott Laboratories from the Ontario government through Ontario Dental Association.
The Panbio Test Device (nasal) is a high-performance rapid test for patients suspected of current COVID-19 infection. It is fast identification of potentially contagious individuals This program is only for the asymptomatic dentist and staff at Affinity Dental Care to proactively screen out those with COVID-19 but mild or no symptoms. It is not for screening our patients or the public at our dental facilities.
The program involves weekly testing of the disease using the Rapid Test Device. The test is done all in-house without having to ship any specimen out to a medical laboratory. It only takes less than 20 minutes from the sample collection in the nostrils to get the results. Although the test has high sensitivity and specificity, it can be considered a diagnosis. If the screening result is positive, then a more sensitive and specific PCR testing is immediately warranted (also known as polymerase chain reaction testing).
The benefit of doing such screening is to prevent asymptomatic staff members at Affinity Dental Care from unknowingly spreading COVID-19 in the workplace and breaking the disease's chain of transmission.
Although Dr. Wong and his staff are all fully vaccinated against this disease, we continue to practice the five control categories presented in one of my previous blogs. Elimination – we screen the patient's medical and travel history, do temperature checks, enforce face masks for all persons in the clinic, request frequent hand wash, etc. HEPA air filtration systems continue to be employed to clean the air.
Substitution – replacing the old traditional high-volume suction tips with special nozzles with more aerosol capturing power to remove the tiny air droplets during dental procedures like fillings, crowns and bridges, teeth scaling and cleaning etc. The dental laser performs certain tasks like dental cleaning and endodontic therapies. The dental laser generates fewer aerosols.
Engineering Controls – The air filtration system in our HVAC system with UV light clean and disinfect the air. Keeping the doors to the operatories closed will keep the efficiency of the air filtration systems more effective and disallow the spreading of harmful germs in the air away. The use of dental rubber dams during fillings, crown and bridges preparations, root canal treatments will significantly reduce spreading. Waiting room chairs are separated for at least 6 feet apart. Administrative Controls – It includes: 1) proper screening of the patients over the phone for patients who are of the high risk for COVID-19, booking extra time in between patients to allow adequate time to do thorough filtering of the air, disinfection of the dental equipment like the chairs, and cabinet tops, before the next patient; 2) chairside ergonomics with the idea to reduce the exposure of the dentist, dental hygienist and dental assistant being too close to the plume rising out of patients mouth during dental treatments; 3) the enhanced protocol of disinfecting the waiting room chairs, reception countertops, doorknobs in between patients and mopping the floor daily with floor disinfectant.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) – we wear latex-free gloves, water-resistant gowns, N95 masks, eye shields, face shields, and surgical caps during fillings, composite resin bondings, cleanings, implant placements and gum surgeries, etc.