Given that September is “Dental Infection Control Month”, I’d like to comment on a study that determined eye wear and masks are ineffective for protecting dentists from infection during treatment. Red dye showed how splatter travels from a patient’s mouth to a simulated face, positioned where a dentist or hygienist would sit in the dental office. Dentists drill teeth at high speeds (180,000 rpm to 500,000 rpm) and this generates spray and debris that travels up to 50 mph – particles of filling, tooth, calculus, and harmful pathogenic germs from teeth, saliva and blood. The study, illustrating the inadequacy of dental masks, was funded by inventors of a special debris deflector offering improved protection.
When I read this study, I ask the question, “what about the patient?”. Surely patients are at risk when lying horizontal with an open mouth, open nostrils, vulnerable eyes, and naked skin? What about debris floating in the air for hours after a patient leaves the office? What are the consequence for a child or adult who is next in line after someone with foul oral health? This seems an obvious concern, yet there is almost no other research. Perhaps we need “clean” rooms for examinations of children and those with healthy mouths.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for this!
For now I suggest the following:
1. Schedule a dental appointment as early in the day and week as possible, ideally after a long weekend when the office air will have settled.
2. Avoid Friday afternoon appointments.
3. Boost your immune system with a healthy diet and probiotics for several weeks before an appointment.
4. Adults should use the Complete Mouth Care System immediately before an appointment.
5. Eat Zellie’s as you exit the dental office.