Infection Control

Dental practice takes additional sterilization steps in coronavirus war.

Practicing dentistry during the COVID-19 outbreak has brought unique challenges for providers.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

The staff at Advanced Dental Cosmetic Center is taking extra precautions to ensure
patient safety.

Up until mid-May, dentists were advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Dental Association to refrain from treating patients except those with bona fide emergencies such as severe abscesses, gum swelling and fractured teeth, conditions that can create life-threatening infections.

J. Terry Alford, DMD, practices general, cosmetic and restorative dentistry, and is the clinical director of Advanced Dental Cosmetic Center in Bradenton. He followed the CDC and ADA recommendations, and has taken extraordinary precautions to protect his patients, staff and himself from the coronavirus and other infectious pathogens.

“Advanced Dental Cosmetic Center is somewhat unique in that we had multiple anti-microbial policies in place before the coronavirus became a problem,” Dr. Alford reports. “One system that was already in place was a hospital-grade water sterilization system, which sterilizes every drop of water that comes into the building.

“Also in place is a UV filtration system for our air conditioners. This system sterilizes the air that enters and circulates throughout the building.”

Dr. Alford first updated his building’s germicidal capabilities four years ago when he installed commercial ozonators. The ozonators, which are turned on at the end of the workday, kill bacteria, viruses and fungi, and reduce odors in the air.

“Because of the ozonators, the building is as sterile as it can be when my staff and I arrive in the morning,” Dr. Alford states. “And it makes a big difference in the health of my staff. As a result of the systems we have in place, there has been a significant decrease in employee sick days.”

After the COVID-19 pandemic began, Dr. Alford upgraded the antimicrobial systems in his building. He installed CDC-certified germicidal UV overhead bulbs in every room. These bulbs are turned on at night to sterilize all objects and surfaces in the rooms.

As of May 15, Advanced Dental Cosmetic Center once again opened its doors to all patients, and Dr. Alford has taken steps to protect the health of those patients.

“We are utilizing the same protocols that the CDC is using to screen patients that are on our schedule,” he elaborates. “We have them fill out questionnaires, we check their temperature three separate times and log the results in their charts.

“As our practice returns to normal, we are performing elective dental procedures and treating problems beyond bona fide dental emergencies. We are managing the dental conditions that were previously postponed when we were restricted to providing emergency care.”

Dr. Alford has been working to safeguard his staff as well.

“I want my staff to stay healthy and well, so each day, upon arriving at the office, staff members are temperature tested, and that information is recorded,” the dentist reports. “We do that because the staff are in contact with family members, and we do not want them to bring anything they pick up from their families into the practice.

“We use the antimicrobial systems and take the extra precautions to ensure the health and well-being of every staff member and patient. My goal is to make Advanced Dental Cosmetic Center the safest, most sterile and healthiest environment possible for my staff, myself and my patients during this coronavirus crisis.”

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    • J. Terry Alford, DMD

      J. Terry Alford, DMD, practices general, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry in Bradenton. He received his undergraduate degree from Rollins College, Winter Park, and his dental degree from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, with ad... Read More

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      H. Gene Steele, DDS, is a veteran of the US Army Military Intelligence Corps. Following his discharge from the Army, Dr. Steele attended the University of Toledo in Ohio and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering. Dr. St... Read More