Kate Scheer considers sanitisation in the winter months.
Winter is here, which means that it’s once again time to think about how you perform infection control in your practice and whether any improvements can be made. Cold weather months are the peak time for disease transmission, so now is a good opportunity to think more deeply about the products and equipment you use, their efficacy, ease of use and how well they suit your schedules.
After all, time is a great commodity in a dental practice, so why not streamline your infection control as well as ensure that it’s top-notch?
Cold weather threats shouldn’t be ignored
Although maintaining a high standard of infection control is a necessity year-round, the cooler months do present a tougher challenge. Viruses such as Influenza, Norovirus and the common cold spread more effectively in these months for a number of reasons. In fact, it’s now believed that a combination of circumstances is the reason behind disease transmission increasing so much at this time.
For a start, colder weather makes people spend more time indoors with others, meaning that they are more likely to be in close proximity and spread illnesses. Another factor is that the days get shorter, meaning less sunlight. Sunlight is one of our main sources of Vitamin D, and when our levels of Vitamin D drop, this can leave people more prone to infection. Recently, it’s become clear that humidity levels in the air are also instrumental in the disease transmission process. Cold weather usually means drier air, allowing infectious respiratory droplets from sneezes and coughs to remain suspended in the air for longer, making it more likely that people will breathe them in.
As such, this means that extra care needs to be taken to ensure that a gold-standard level of infection control is being performed to keep both staff and patients safe.
While the majority of winter bugs are usually nothing to worry about, Influenza, in particular, is a threat to those with weaker immune systems, and on average the virus claims the lives of hundreds of people in the UK each year.
So, where to begin?
The cleaning products you use to treat surfaces are often the first line of defence against the spread of pathogens. As such, you need to ensure that they are able to kill the vast majority of microorganisms. Look for a kill rate that is at least 99.99 per cent (though higher is better). You should also see if your cleaning products are effective against newer threats such as Covid-19 – most cleaning products will state this on the bottle or on the manufacturer’s website.
Dental practices have a variety of different surface materials, including wood, plastic, metal and more. Pathogens survive for different lengths of time on different materials, so you need to ensure that cleaning products are effective on all of the surfaces in your practice – it’s also good to make sure they are safe to use on delicate surfaces and equipment to avoid any damage. To make cleaning more efficient and save time, try looking for products that can be used across your practice or that protect against pathogen recolonisation between cleaning cycles.
Encouraging correct handwashing and supporting hand hygiene with hand sanitiser is another way to effectively prevent the spread of disease. Much like cleaning products, soaps and hand sanitisers should be highly effective at killing pathogens. Plus, you should ensure that they are kind to skin, especially as damaged skin allows germs to infiltrate our natural defences.
Technology in practice
There are various technologies you can introduce in your practice to streamline infection control. The Lisa type B steriliser from W&H represents the next generation of instrument sterilisation. Utilising fast cycles and a host of added extras, such as energy-saving Eco Dry+ capabilities, the system offers outstanding instrument sterilisation in less than 15 minutes for specific loads. The Lisa is a state-of-the-art vacuum B steriliser that uses advanced technology for efficient, reliable, time-saving and intuitive performance. Plus, the system boasts the added benefit of exceptional connectivity for maximum traceability.
Build your defences
Although winter is a season associated with illness, if you take the time to assess your current infection control measures and invest in high-quality solutions and technology, you can help guarantee that your practice has everything it needs to reduce the transmission of disease.