The benefits of hypochlorous acid in the battle against COVID-19

By Yolanda Mangrum, DDS, and Fred Joyal, DrBicuspid.com contributing writers

August 25, 2020 -- Many dentists have started using hypochlorous acid as a way of sterilizing their operatories and practices because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a simple, versatile, nontoxic substance that is also very inexpensive because it is not a patented product. The true advantage of hypochlorous acid is its amazing effectiveness. While being essentially harmless to humans, it is lethal to the novel coronavirus and other pathogens.

It is an ideal aerosol decontamination solution because you can spray or fog a room and it leaves no toxic substance in the air or on any surface. In fact, all it does is kill toxic substances. One of the things that we've learned about COVID-19 is that it remains in the air rather than quickly settling on surfaces, which means only cleaning surfaces is ineffective for sanitizing your operatories.

Yolanda Mangrum, DDS, MAGD.
Yolanda Mangrum, DDS.

We know many dentists who have adopted the process of hypochlorous fogging of their operatories and are amazed at the time savings, as well as the effectiveness. Hypochlorous fogging allows the air to be sanitized quickly, acting within one minute, and it has essentially no smell and leaves no filmy substance on surfaces.

Hypochlorous acid is electrolyzed salt water, and it is essentially the same substance that is created by white blood cells when attacking pathogens in the body. This is why the human body doesn't react to it. In lower concentrations it is even used medically in patients' eyes. And it's 80% to 100% more effective than chlorine bleach.

There are alternatives to hypochlorous acid that practices are using to sanitize the air, including ozone, vaporized hydrogen peroxide, chlorine dioxide gas, and ultraviolet C (UVC) light. Most cleaners leave a distinct odor, and the challenge with UV light is that it doesn't see around corners, you have to leave it on for several minutes to be effective, and it's only effective within the line of sight of that UV apparatus. Hypochlorous fogging penetrates every corner of the room and then settles on every surface.

Fred Joyal
Fred Joyal.

Several practices actually fog team members and personal protective equipment (PPE) between patients, and then spray clothing before people leave the practice. This is an extra level of safety and decontamination that takes just a few seconds. It has the added advantage of showing patients that you are doing more than anyone would think is even necessary to protect them. Most practices have found that hypochlorous acid is a much better option than heavy disinfectant solutions that have a strong smell, which can't be sprayed into the atmosphere, and really are only effective at cleaning surfaces.

The other advantages of hypochlorous acid are that it's highly available and inexpensive, and virtually no one reacts negatively to it because it is essentially salt water. It is already being used broadly in healthcare, food safety, water treatment, and general sanitation. It is what many people call nature's germ killer. It is the natural defender of your healthy cells.

There are hundreds of references at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concerning hypochlorous acid and its safety, as well as its sanitizing capabilities. There are several resources online to buy hypochlorous acid in the proper concentration. There are also a number of spray bottles, foggers, and electrostatic sprayers that can be used to fog or spray rooms and team members. You want particle size to be between 5 µm and 20 µm from the sprayer or fogger. You can even create systems where you tap into your compressor system, allowing you to fog rooms easily. The ideal concentration in a dental office would be 200 to 500 parts per million.

One note: It is important not to heat hypochlorous acid. While it is easier and more accurate to buy already mixed hypochlorous acid, it can be made. But you must make sure that it comes out in the right pH range, between 5.5 and 6.8. Best Patient Safety is a good resource for dental safety best practices.

In summary, dentists are finding that they love hypochlorous acid -- but COVID-19 doesn't like it at all.

Yolanda Mangrum, DDS, has been a practicing dentist since 1997 and practice owner since 1999. She is the founder of Plan For Health, co-founder of Virtual Training Innovation, and the owner/CEO of Petaluma Dental Group. Today, Petaluma Dental Group has five general dentists, an orthodontist, an oral surgeon, an endodontist, and a periodontist.

Fred Joyal is a renowned speaker, author, and consultant on dental marketing. He is the co-founder of 1-800-DENTIST and author of two best-selling books, Everything is Marketing and Becoming Remarkable.

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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