Infection control through digital scanning in the dental laboratory

By Kimara K. Ackerley

Established in 1973, Protec Dental Laboratories Ltd in Vancouver, British Columbia (BC), has grown to become one of Canada’s largest full-service dental labs.

Protec takes great pride in its Canadian heritage while embracing a diverse team of employees from every corner of the world. It is a collaboration that continues to transform the art and science of crafting dental appliances into a highly precise and ultra-efficient process, including the integration of new digital technologies.

In the realm of global dentistry, health and safety processes and procedures have always been stringently regulated. Protec places great emphasis in following internal and external regulatory guidelines that are predominantly outlined by both the Provincial Ministry of Health and College of Dental Technicians of BC.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, disinfection processes have always been mandated across the dental industry. During the time of COVID-19 closures, new information relating to sanitisation and infection control began to materialise. It was inevitable that the existing regulations would be enhanced, and, in anticipation, we began a methodical approach to prepare for reopening.

The most obvious questions were: “What will we need to change? What new procedures will we implement? And, how are we going to achieve it?”

HOW IDEAS TRANSITIONED TO STRATEGIC PLANNING

Understanding the publicised intricacies of the COVID-19 pandemic, including exposure and transmission, were vital. Prevention and control became the highest priority in order to adhere to the everchanging worldwide protocols and, to save lives. This remains every citizen and corporation’s responsibility.

Leaders at Protec Dental Laboratories wholeheartedly embraced this ideology and moved quickly to incorporate it into the strategic goals, ensuring that it became ingrained into every employee’s daily workflow.

PRIORITISING HEALTH AND SAFETY

During an early roundtable discussion, the decision was made to revamp the existing disinfection protocol. The main challenge would be to systematically achieve this with 215 employees operating across four buildings. We determined that there were approximately 800 of required cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitisation tasks within a specified daily frequency.

Enhanced infection protocols directed our focus on the necessity to implement a robust barcode scanning system. This system would deliver efficiency and accountability through tracking and data analytics, specifically for the disinfection of personal and shared workspaces.

Each area was assigned a unique name and barcode with a detailed description of the cleaning expectations. Magic Touch Software Lab Management System (DLCPM)’s Disinfection Procedure Feature was utilised and customised within our trusted CRM platform to deliver all the features we had aspired to.

Further enhancements to this revamped sanitisation workflow included plexiglass dividers, mandatory PPE, two-metre social
distancing, and screening of all employees, patients and visitors.

Additionally, we adapted an environmentally conscious ionisation process that is distributed through fogging. It became our prime concern to create the safest environment for our most valued assets: our employees!

Business strategies have continued to evolve including the realisation that the aftermath of COVID-19 would linger for some time, revolving future plans around the long-term implications.

MANAGING THE WORKFLOW

Hon, our health and safety officer with an education background from The University of British Columbia, was appointed to lead our broadened infection control team and was promoted accordingly.

Hon maintains an aptitude for growth and development and works closely with our senior management team. Through close knit collaboration and teamwork, a streamlined workflow including training, learning resources, application, and close monitoring has been achieved.

Our digital infection control programme has become a great success; we continue to adapt and navigate through the hurdles of COVID-19, while striving for a brighter tomorrow.

This article was published in Dental Asia March/April 2021 issue.

About the Author:

Kimara K. Ackerley is the project manager at Protec Dental Laboratories LTD, Vancouver, BC, Canada.