The COVID-19 pandemic has further emphasized the importance of reliable air purification in dentistry. In order to keep staff and patients safe in such a high-risk environment, it’s essential that you maintain impeccable hygiene standards during and between dental appointments.
This is why the concept of fallow time was introduced by England’s Chief Dental Officer, Sara Hurley. Fallow time is the amount of ‘down time’ needed to remove respiratory droplets from the air after aerosol-generating procedures (AGPs). A longer fallow time means that you may be able to see fewer patients in one day, however, there are steps you can take to reduce this. We’ll show you how in this article…
What is recommended fallow time for dentists?
Fallow time begins from when AGPs end, rather than the end of the dental procedure. Initially, the recommended fallow time was set at 60 minutes, but the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) suggests that this can be reduced to a minimum of 20 minutes with the right sanitation measures in place.
New patients should not enter the surgery during this settlement period to avoid being exposed to airborne viruses like COVID-19. However, dental staff may enter the surgery if they’re wearing the right PPE. This includes:
- FFP2/3 masks
- N95 respirators
- Surgical gowns
- Long-sleeved disposable surgical gowns
- Nitrile gloves
- Eye protection such as goggles or full-face visors
Reducing fallow time
There are different measures you can take to reduce fallow time safely. We’ve listed some of these methods below.
Opening windows and using air conditioning can help to reduce fallow time by increasing the number of air changes per hour (ACH) in the surgery.
If a single room has 6 air changes per hour, a fallow time of 60 minutes is required. However, when you open windows you promote air ventilation and more air changes can occur, thus reducing the fallow time needed.
If you’re using an air conditioning system, you’ll also need to take factors such as room size into account when calculating the right fallow time for your surgery.
Air sterilization and purification
A high-quality air purification system can help you to reduce your fallow time significantly.
Medical-grade HEPA air purifiers help to eliminate and kill airborne viruses and bacteria, thus helping to create a cleanlier environment for the following patients.
If you’re unsure about the ACH and effectiveness of your air purification system, it’s best to get in touch with the manufacturer for accurate information.
High volume evacuation
This technology is used by over 90% of dental surgeries already and it helps to catch airborne particles before they leave the patient’s mouth.
According to the SDCEP, utilising high volume evacuation in your surgery can help to reduce fallow time by 10 minutes.
Dental dams provide physical barriers between patients mouths and the air. This helps to reduce the number of respiratory and saliva particles that enter the surgery environment.
As a result, using a dental dam can help you to knock 5 minutes off your fallow time, according to the SDCEP.
Mars Purifier and fallow time
If you’re looking at reducing your fallow time, our air purification systems are the ideal place to start. Our technology enables dentists to effectively eliminate airborne viruses and particles in a timely fashion. This helps to promote a safer and cleanlier dental surgery for patients.
Get in touch to learn more about how our air purifiers can help you reduce fallow time.