Aerosol mitigation in the clinic area is a key topic of discussion as orthodontic practices reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While no changes have been mandated at this point, many orthodontists are weighing their options. Orthodontic Products talked to Jay Bowman, DMD, MSD, a member of our editorial board. He has been working to sort through the different products on the market. 

Preparing for Reopening

To get started, we talk about the changes he has made to his Michigan-based practice ahead of reopening on June 1.

He talks about:

  • his chair setup and tasks assigned to each staff member—including introducing a staff scribe role.
  • how the practice is handling communication with the parent who can’t be in the clinic area during their child’s appointment
  • how he is shifting PPE from his two satellite offices that will remain closed to ensure that his main office has sufficient supplies.

And when it comes to patient screening, Bowman provides some valuable insight on thermometers and the specifics of what goes into an accurate temperature reading.

Aerosol Mitigation

On our topic of aerosol mitigation, many orthodontists balk at the idea of adding equipment to their offices—arguing that they were employing best practices before COVID-19 to keep patients safe. But just as orthodontists once practiced without gloves, times change. And what once seemed like a burden could become the standard going forward. 

With that in mind, Bowman starts by talking about mitigating aerosols in the patient’s mouth. He discusses products he’s found that he can add to his HVE devices to eliminate the need for another staff member to be present, as well as extraoral suction machines. 

He then talks about the office as a whole. Bowman’s office is over 20 years old, and with that comes an out-of-date HVAC system. Already knowing he needed to replace a furnace, Bowman recently brought in an HVAC engineer to evaluate his current system and recommend updates to provide better air filtration amid COVID-19.

Bowman shares:

  • the changes he’s going to make—from HEPA to UV light filters
  • why you need to know where your systems exhaust to—a lesson Bowman learned when his HVAC engineer discovered his evacuation equipment was emptying out right under his clinic area, rather than outside the building. 

Bowman also talks about why he has opted to turn a records room into a negative pressure room. He lays out how the conversion isn’t as daunting as it seems and why it might be more cost-effective in the long run. 

And to conclude, Bowman offers some guidance on hiring an HVAC specialist. OP