Dental Practices of the Future
Let’s face it, when it comes to the dentist you probably don’t give it much thought except when you experience a dental emergency or when it’s time for your cleaning. With safety and cleanliness at the forefront nowadays, the future of dentistry is changing. Here are some changes you can expect in the future when it comes to dentistry, according to Dental Economics.
Cleaner, safer clinical support spaces
Dental practices can learn a lot from hospitals when it comes to designing cleaner, safer support spaces. Based on function, hospital design categorizes support spaces as either “dirty” or “clean.” This dictates what should be clearly separated to avoid cross-contamination, and how air quality is addressed. If this logic is applied to the dental environment, sterilization and laboratories would be considered “dirty” spaces, along with soiled holding rooms, which are designed to safely store contaminated trash and PPE before disposal or laundering. In addition to being safely self-contained, “dirty” spaces should be designed with an air handling system that exhausts contaminated air directly outdoors or through a high-grade HEPA filtration system before it’s recirculated. Another solution is an air purification system like the EnviroKlenz Mobile Air unit. Clean supplies should be stored in designated “clean” areas, separated from potential sources of impurities, with an HVAC system designed to supply uncontaminated air. The same logic should apply to donning rooms, intended for the storage and application of clean PPE.
Operatories with aerosol considerations
The airborne nature of COVID-19 has dentists more concerned about aerosols than ever before. Luckily, innovative air quality products are quickly coming to the market, and there’s a growing body of resources that can help dentists understand their options. Air quality solutions can be paired with a practice’s design approach to enhance safety measures and provide peace of mind. There are three ways to approach air quality: isolation capture, which means sealing off a room and creating negative air pressure to contain and safely exhaust contaminants; ambient capture, which means utilizing centralized filtration systems to capture and clean air; and source capture, which means capturing contaminants at their source–near the oral cavity. Keep in mind that air quality is the easiest to control in closed operatories, where contaminated air has less opportunity to travel before being effectively treated. In open treatment spaces, air quality techniques can be layered—for example, both source and ambient capture—for added protection. In either case, while COVID-19 is the first airborne infectious disease to shake up the field of dentistry, it likely won’t be the last. Air quality has been a priority in hospital settings for decades, and dental settings can benefit from prioritizing it as well.
Separation of three functional zones
The design of a dental office is what builds the foundation for efficiency and flow. When the layout supports the activities that take place within a practice, it creates ease of movement, reduces stress, and saves time. This is accomplished by organizing spaces into three functional zones: public, clinical, and team. The public zone is the front end of a practice where patients are greeted, checked in and out, and where business functions take place. The clinical zone is where treatment is provided and supported, consisting of operatories, consultation, sterilization, and laboratory. The team zone is where staff can decompress and recharge. While this approach to arranging spaces has been in practice for some time, a few enhancements can create an extra layer of infection prevention. When the separation of zones is more distinct, it becomes easier to avoid cross-contamination and implement engineering controls and air quality measures.
The public zone can be streamlined to avoid unnecessary interaction between patients. Plush seating and self-serve refreshment areas can be swapped for health-care-grade furnishings and impervious materials that are easy to clean. The clinical zone can be arranged to avoid bottlenecks by designating clear circulation paths and providing easy, in-and-out access to support spaces such as sterilization and clean supply storage. The team zone can be thoughtfully designed as an area of refuge for staff. Simple details such as personal storage lockers and clutter-free countertops can keep the space feeling less like an afterthought and more like a place to unwind.
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed the way we think about the future. These are just some of the ways dental offices might adapt to the changes to make it more streamlined and safe for the patients. Value Dental Care offers some of the best dental solutions at affordable rates in the Nature Coast area. We ensure that all our patients’ needs are met every time they visit us. We have a team of professional and courteous staff who always keeps their patient's best interests at heart. From root canals to cavities, to restoring teeth, we exceed all expectations in a wide array of services. Contact us today at either our Spring Hill or Crystal River location to schedule your next appointment!