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How to Reduce Single-Use Plastic Waste in Medical & Dental Offices

In medical and dental offices, single-use plastics are easy and convenient. Although this may be true, the continuous use of these plastics increases the carbon footprint, making it detrimental to the earth. Without the earth, we won’t need medical or dental offices, right?

The pandemic has forced everyone to take a long, hard look at the way things are done. As items become scarce, the need to re-use products becomes a priority. In turn, this creates new opportunities to recycle, reduce waste, and reduce our carbon footprint on the environment.

As a result, medical and dental offices have begun using face shields as part of their personal protective equipment.

What are face shields?

Face shields are protective masks healthcare workers now use for extra protection. They are especially important in medical and dental facilities due to close contact procedures taking place and more effective in the prevention and spread of bacteria and viruses. Created with PETG thermoplastic polyester, the shield covers the entire face to avoid splatter from either party. One of the benefits of using face shields is that they can be sanitized for continual reuse.

Tru-Form Plastics provides three different styles of face shields: standard, deluxe and industrial. Advantages of these face shields:

  • Can be sanitized for continual reuse
  • Lightweight and can be worn for long periods
  • Does not fog up
  • Additional foam pad provides additional ventilation
  • PETG does not break down in UV light
  • Plastic is much thicker than others

Cleaning and sanitizing face shields

Properly cleaning a face shield without ruining it is key. Additionally, ensuring the cleaning agent is sterile enough to sanitize the face shield is important. Each medical and dental facility using face shields should have a cleaning protocol in place on how to do this. The use of a mild liquid detergent along with a soft cloth or sponge works well. The face shield must be thoroughly rinsed and dried with a soft cotton or microfiber cloth.

If the shield is cleaned with a surface disinfectant, it may leave a residue, which makes it ineffective for use. If alcohol wipes are used, all directions should be followed to ensure the shield is dry and residue-free.

Removing single-use plastics from medical facilities

Single-use plastics help prevent infection in medical and dental offices. They are also affordable and convenient for staff and patients. In order to get a handle on the harm being done to the environment, alternative uses must become a priority. Here are a few ways single-use plastics can be removed:

  • Cups – Plastic cups are very sanitary and widely used throughout medical and dental facilities. Switching from plastic to paper will help.
  • Toothpaste tube and floss containers – While plastic tubes are used and distributed in dental offices, advising the staff and patients to recycle their plastics after use can help cut waste and reduce harm to the environment.
  • Plastic tips – These are used for air, water and suction but can be switched out for reusable sterile ones.
  • Plastic barrier sleeves – These sleeves are used to cover air and water syringes to prevent cross-contamination but are usually one use. Finding an alternative for this would be key.
  • Propylaxis angles – These are the cups that hold toothpaste for polishing. In most cases, they are disposable rubber. By switching to metal or recycled plastic that can be reused, this will help in reducing plastic waste.

Dental and medical professionals have a lot to consider while providing the best care and safety for their patients. As a whole, the healthcare industry can work on doing their part to prevent the use of single-use plastics and help protect the environment. These professionals have a duty to help protect the environment and are favorably viewed among their patients when going green. In time, the cost savings will outweigh the extra efforts and will help in creating sustainable practices in their facilities.

How Can Dentists Use Plastics to Protect Patients?

In this era of COVID-19, protecting patients is more crucial than ever. Although patients may come into the facility for services wearing a mask, what happens when it’s time for them to sit in the chair? There are a few things dental offices and dentists can do to protect themselves and their patients, such as wearing plastic face shields.

What are plastic face shields?

Plastic face shields help provide barriers between the dentist and patient. Although the actual face shield is made of plastic, these shields are designed to prevent the spread of infection. They are cleaned and disinfected on a continuous basis to maintain the integrity of the shield.

Face shields are a good solution for dentists because they don’t have to be touched while working with the patient. Additionally, they don’t itch like face masks do, which also works as a preventative measure against touching the face. Tru-Form Plastics are a leader in this area.

What’s so special about Tru-Form Plastics?

Tru-Form face shields are lightweight, allowing consistent motion and the ability to see multiple patients at a time. The face shield does not fog, and the smaller foam pad adds an additional layer of ventilation. Tru-Form’s plastic is also more than twice as thick as other face shields on the market, creating a more durable shield to work with. The shields come in 3 different options: standard, deluxe, and industrial.

These shields are constructed with PETG material, mentioned as one of the best materials for face shields by the FDA. PETG does not break down in UV light, providing a much longer shelf life than shields made with PVC or other materials. Tru-Form Plastics uses the thermoforming process, which is heating a thermoplastic sheet until it is soft enough to stretch over a mold where it cools and solidifies into a desired shape for use.

How are diseases and infections transferred in a dental office?

There are a number of ways diseases and infections can be transferred. This includes by direct contact or droplets of blood and saliva. Additionally, if tools and areas touched by the dental professionals are not properly sanitized, this increases the likelihood of infection.

Safety is the first priority

Using plastics in dental offices helps reduces the risk of exposure, transference of germs and infection for employees and patients. Barriers, or Sani-Shields work to protect office workers while remaining compliant with social distancing guidelines where high traffic is the norm. Lightweight and easy to install, each shield is customizable.

Face shields are for protection against spray and splatter without interfering with line of sight. Additionally, face shields should be large enough to protect the face and head. Since these are reused, proper care and cleaning procedures should be implemented. This involves using surface disinfectant wipes and other solutions approved by the manufacturer.

Dental health workers are deemed high risk, so proper PPE is key. That means covering all dental tools and disinfecting them on a continuous basis. This may also involve keeping them in protective covers until used. Cleaning face shields away from patients will also help in alleviating the spread of germs.

To find out more about how Tru-Form Plastics can be beneficial in protecting your dental office, contact our team today!

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