An Austin dentist is spending thousands of dollars in protective equipment in case he treats asymptomatic COVID-19 patients.
“It’s worth it to me, it’s worth it to myself, it’s worth it to the well being of my staff,” said Dr. Tuan Pham.
He said he spent $3,000 on nine medical grade air purifiers, strategically placed through out his southwest Austin office. “Here at Circle C Dental, every treatment room, or any place that can generate aerosols and more, have a machine,” he said.
Before reopening his office, Dr. Pham stocked up on medical gloves, masks, face shields and full body protective gear. All patients will have their temperature taken, but growing research finds some COVID-19 carriers may not show any symptoms.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said COVID-19 is thought to be spread primarily through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, and surgical masks protect dentists and staff from droplet spatter during procedures, but they do not provide complete protection.
“So the theory is these aerosols get into the air, and thus the transmission of Corona,” said Dr. Pham.
He says one of his nine air purifiers can clean the air of bacteria and viruses in his entire office within 15 minutes. He says he’s not passing any costs of the air purifiers on to patients, either.
“I don’t add it to the cost of anything. It’s just part of doing something that’s safe for people,” he said.
The CDC says there is no data available to assess the risk of COVID-19 spreading during dental practice, and no clusters have been reported in dental settings.