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31 Jul 2022 | Australasian Dental Practice

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Infection control in dental practice design

By Geoff Raphael

Whilst infection control has always been an important consideration in dental practice design, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vital role that infection control plays in keeping dentists, staff and patients safe.

Building infection control strategies into your practice design is an effective way to minimise the risks and keep your practice operating now and in the future should troubled times again arise.

Complying with social distancing requirements in a confined space can be challenging. Creating an effective and efficient patient flow at the practice design stage helps to minimise the time patients spend in contact with each other. In larger practices and certain specialities, the practice can be designed to have a circular patient flow so it is one-way traffic as much as possible. In smaller practices, it’s often possible to utilise the disability compliance rules with corridors designed for wheelchair turns to facilitate passing areas for maintaining distancing requirements.

Material selection also plays an important role in infection control. For counters and benches, solid surface materials such as Corian™ and Austaron™ are non-porous, durable and easy to keep clean and disinfected. These products also have an antimicrobial range suitable for operating theatres and scrubs. In addition, HEPA filtered air conditioning systems can be incorporated into high risk areas to help minimise airborne pathogens.

Where laminates are used, post formed tops are preferred in lieu of joins which may harbour unwanted germs.

Careful consideration should be given to all touch points, including door handles, handrails and latches to select surfaces that are easy to clean and disinfect. Metallics and solid surfaces provide a balance of aesthetics, durability and ease of care.

Visible controls help to communicate the importance of infection control to patients visiting the practice. These controls can include dedicated hand sanitiser stations designed to minimise repeat contact and clear screens at reception areas, putting physical protection between your staff and patients without losing the critical visual connection.

Building a solid infection control strategy into the design of your practice is an investment in the security of your healthcare career.

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