RDHs give advice on coping with PPE in the age of COVID-19

2019 04 02 21 45 6246 Water Bottles 400

Today, we are continuing our series of questions and answers for dental hygienists called "RDHs in the real world." In this series, we are asking dental hygienists for their thoughts and opinions on the current and future states of their profession.

Last week, we presented hygienists' answers to the following question: "What are the biggest barriers to hygienists returning to the operatory?" They provided some eye-opening thoughts.

This week, we asked hygienists to share some of their best advice on how to cope with personal protective equipment (PPE). Specifically, we asked hygienists to let us know how they were faring with the new guidance regarding PPE and infection control and prevention in the dental practice.

What advice would they share with others? Check out the following comments:

  • "Get outside at lunch/breaks as much as possible. Drink lots of water before and after hours and at breaks to stay hydrated. Consider slipping in sugar-free or xylitol mints during your shift. Consider working half-days if possible, or negotiating flexible hours. Do deep-breathing exercises at breaks/lunch. Do yoga or workouts before or after shifts and on days off. Consider a cooling vest to wear under scrubs/lab coat. Practice nasal breathing to avoid mouth breathing during shifts. Limit your hours as much as possible and, if all else fails, even go temporary if you continue to feel miserable at end of day after doing all of the above. Also, meditate to help ease anxiety." -- Anonymous RDH from Connecticut
  • "Get outside when possible. Insist on adequate patient spacing to allow for breaks and adequate disinfection." -- Ellen, RDH for 39 years, California
  • "Frequent breaks, outside breaks, and time to hydrate and eat." -- Alisa, RDH for 38 years, Washington state
  • "Go outside at lunch and walk to get oxygen levels back up." -- Karen, RDH for 33 years, Michigan
  • "Google 'gel water.' It is a better way to hydrate. 'Front load' with water first thing in morning by drinking a few glasses of gel water or water. Assess water intake every two to three hours. Also, this is very important, wear a dental face shield that has 2 to 4 inches of airspace in front of your mask. This allows for airflow. Throw away the disposable face shields as they suffocate due to no airspace. I suffered for weeks before figuring this out and almost quit! Watch your mouth-breathing with N95s. Maybe use XyliMelts or a moisturizing spray. Prevent your nose getting stuffy with Xlear nasal spray." -- Elizabeth, RDH for 30 years, California
  • "Drink water and stay hydrated! I just started trading my scrub top for a tank top. No one can see it under my gown anyway. It really helps keep me cooler. Always eat lunch. You have enough going on without being ill from hunger and getting a headache because you haven't eaten." -- Michelle, RDH for 16 years, North Carolina
  • "Invest in a PAPR [powered air-purifying respirator]. Breathe slowly and deeply. Drink a lot of water before you start the day, then water/drinks with electrolytes at lunch and also using xylitol spray or lozenge for xerostomia." -- Jennifer, RDH for 32 years, Texas
  • "Wear a Dri-Fit Nike tank top under lab jacket. Twice as Nice breathable scrub caps. Train yourself to breathe out through your nose. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate before work, at lunch, and lots after work. It's difficult otherwise as the masks and ear savers are not easy to take off and on to get a drink without cross-contaminating. Get outside for a walk after work to get fresh air and mindful movement, plus to clear your mind." -- Bobbie, RDH for 15 years, Washington state
  • "Hydration and humor!" -- Anonymous RDH from Pennsylvania
  • "Deep breathing to calm you, as you would do when performing yoga." -- Pamela, RDH for 46 years, Texas

We will have more answers from another question next week. If there is something you would like to see us cover in a future article, drop me a line at [email protected].

Note: If you're a hygienist and would like to have your voice heard in a future article, please fill out our survey.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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