US Department of Labor conducted a study to rank the ‘Unhealthiest Jobs’ in America. Dentistry ranked # 1 as the Unhealthiest Job of all 974 occupations in this study:
The dental profession is especially vulnerable to exposures to airborne contaminants such as the COVID virus. During a regular dental visit, patients, dentists, and assistants are exposed to bio-aerosols that originate from the use of drills and air/water sprays. These fine droplets, which may contain dangerous pathogens such as the COVID virus, are dispersed in the air, and can stay airborne for hours! They are easily inhaled and become a potential source of infection for everyone in the dental clinic. The amount of time these droplets remain suspended in air, how far they travel and their level of contamination should be a concern for everyone, and especially for highly vulnerable patients (children, pregnant women, and the elderly).
If you have ever been to an operating room of a hospital, you may have noticed a cooler and cleaner airflow. This is accomplished with modern, and very powerful, HVAC and Air Purification systems that constantly supply fresh uncontaminated air, as well as filter the existing air from contaminants produced during treatment.
This technology is not limited to hospitals, many other industries have upgraded their HVAC and Air Purification Systems to bring them up to today’s standards. They are being used in professional sports locker rooms, bank headquarters, security companies, law firms, universities, retail stores, and daycares. This is because poor indoor air quality, in addition to causing outright disease, can also have a dramatic effect on human performance. Symptoms linked to poor air quality include headaches, shortness of breath, dizziness, and nausea. Cognitive functions can also be adversely affected. Studies also show that better indoor air quality leads to higher human productivity.
Unfortunately, HVAC and Air Purification systems are very difficult and expensive to upgrade once a building has been constructed and so they are ‘frozen’ in time, along with the buildings they ventilate. These systems typically do not evolve as standards are upgraded. As dental professionals, over the past few decades, we have learned to wear PPEs, thoroughly sterilize our instruments, and disinfect contaminated surfaces, but indoor air quality has largely been IGNORED. Indoor air quality control should clearly be a part of our infection control protocol. We are equally responsible to upgrade our HVAC systems as standards are improved to protect you, as well as our staff who spend a significant portion of their lives inside the clinic. And at Soleil we have done exactly that.