QUESTION: Our office currently wears lab jackets, but we want to switch to scrub tops with long-sleeve undershirts. We’re having trouble finding information about this. Some sources say it’s OK, and some make it seem like it might not be a good thing. Can we forego wearing lab jackets as long as we have on long sleeves?
ANSWER FROM TIJA HUNTER, CDA, EFDA:
Dental personal protective equipment, including our gowns, acts as a barrier between our skin and all the spatter we come in contact with daily. That spatter could potentially contain an infectious disease, and we need to protect ourselves from that. None of our skin should be exposed.
Our PPE should also be fluid resistant, and the problem with those long sleeve t-shirts under jackets is that they are not fluid resistant. They usually absorb moisture instead of resisting it.
Generally, protective gowns should have long sleeves, high necks, and should cover our knees when we’re sitting chairside. If you choose to wear a short gown that’s more hip length, then your scrub pants that cover your lap should be considered PPE and be laundered as such. Proper laundering means using an in-house laundry facility or sending items out to a laundry service. No PPE should be worn outside of the building.
I totally get it. Our PPE is a lot, we get hot in it, and it’s hard to move in. The truth is that it protects us, and not just us. Our PPE protects everyone we come in contact with including our family members when we wear something home that we shouldn't. I hope this helps you make a decision.
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