October 15, 2020
Anyone that temps regularly is accustomed to change. Each office looks different, runs different, and has different supplies on hand, but you find a way to make it all work. In the past, I was pretty flexible about getting by for a day with some new equipment or unfamiliar products and protocols, but COVID made me realize that there are some products that I can’t live without. In fact, my temping toolbox looks quite a bit different in this new era.
Pre-COVID, despite knowing the OSHA regulations, I was showing up to the office already decked out in my scrubs and shoes. Now I’m arriving in my “street clothes” and changing at the office. I’ve even added a surgical cap to round out my ensemble. Since most offices can’t offer the required N95 fit test on the spot, I bring my own fitted N95 mask and wear an office provided level 3 mask over it. Upon doffing the mask, I put it in a brown paper bag with the date to keep track of how many hours it has been worn. My scrubs, long reusable lab jacket, and surgical cap all go into a washable bag at the end of the day and get dumped into the washer on hot right when I get home, while my shoes air out in the garage.
Never have I thought about aerosols like this before COVID. Now I can imagine tiny coronavirus balls flying through my operatory ready to attack at any opportunity. We often look to PPE as our savior from aerosols and splatter, but it is actually the final line of defense. We need to think more about environmental controls and what we can be doing to decrease the aerosols in the op. My tackle box is now loaded up with Young Splatter Guard Prophy angles. This prophy cup was designed to decrease splatter while still effectively removing stain and biofilm. I’m also bringing in my own American Eagle XP sharpen free instruments. When you temp there’s no way to know the condition and supply of the hand Instruments. These instruments allow me to get right to work without sharpening and they require a feather-light touch so there’s less hand fatigue. In the past, I relied on my ultrasonic scaler to do most of the heavy lifting, but with restrictions on aerosol producing procedures, a sharp scaler is the only way to stay on time and provide excellent care. But for those patients where the ultrasonic scaler is warranted, I’m bringing along my own High Evacuation Suction (HVE) tips and Cordeze bracelet to help ease the drag on a heavy evacuation line.
While this isn’t a new addition to my tackle box I always bring along a few ProEdge Quick Pass waterline test kits. It’s estimated that less than 33% of offices are testing their dental unit waterlines. This is a big deal because patients can get sick, and they have! But a new study in the Journal Of Periodontology, Demystifying the Mist, shows that the vast majority of the aerosols we are exposed to in our op are coming from our dental unit waterlines, not our patients’ aerosolized saliva. This is as much about our health as the patient’s health.
I worry I’ll have to start bringing my own disinfecting wipes, as I’ve witnessed some offices making some poor substitutions when they can’t find their preferred wipes. While necessity is the mother of invention, that invention still needs to be approved by a regulating authority and you have to follow the instructions for use. Soaking 4X4s in disinfectant isn’t safe and the gauze could actually render the disinfectant inactive. So perhaps a Birex concentration packet and a spray bottle might just be the next thing added to my temping toolkit.
Temping is a great way to have the flexibility that I can’t get from a standard clinical position.
I love that I can get DentalPost.net alerts on my phone and determine my availability. It puts me in control of my career and my toolkit allows me to practice the way I want.
Amanda Hill, RDH, BS has been in the dental industry for over 30 years, she earned her B.S. in Dental Hygiene at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia and has had the opportunity to experience dentistry around the world. Amanda has a love for learning and is obsessed with continuing education in all its many forms. Amanda practices part time clinically and is an industry educator for the nation’s largest dental job board, DentalPost.net. Amanda is a proud Navy spouse and mom of 3.