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Endodontics Clinic receives microscope shields to protect against 'splash back'

Endodontics resident Austyn Grissom, DMD, peers though the microscope lens from behind the shield.
Endodontics resident Austyn Grissom, DMD, peers though the microscope lens from behind the shield. Photo by Brian Schnupp.

The Endodontics Clinic at UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry has received a dozen microscope shields to protect against droplet and fluid “splash back” during patient care.

The shields were invented by F. Micah Nuzum, DDS, an endodontist in Ohio, and donated through his company, Shieldont.

“We’re very appreciative of the donation,” said Professor Timothy Kirkpatrick, DDS, director of the Advanced Education in Endodontics Program. “The microscope shield provides an added layer of protection for everyone involved — the doctor, assistant, and patient — and doesn’t get in the way of anything we need to do as far as the treatment procedure.”

Installed in each of the Endodontics Clinic’s 12 operatories, the shield is clamped around the stand of the microscope and acts as a barrier between the patient and practitioner, who can still freely move and use instruments for care delivery.

“We routinely work with a microscope,” said first-year endodontics resident Austyn Grissom, DMD. “Traditionally, there’s only been a mask and goggles between us and the patient. However, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to protect against aerosols. When you finish treatment and see the splash back on these shields, the evidence their effectiveness is right in front of you.”

Preshield, personal protective equipment (or PPE) on the head of the microscope operator involved a N95 mask, surgical mask, goggles, and a face shield. The goggles and face mask meant increased layers, adding stress to the eyes and head, when trying to look through the microscope lens. The microscope shield eliminates the need for a face shield, relieving the weight of extra PPE, helping to reduce fogging of glasses, and providing a clearer visual field during procedures.

After treating a patient, the shields can be cleaned with ease using disinfectant wipes, the same approach used to clean hard surfaces in the operatories.

The Endodontics Clinic first learned of the opportunity to receive microscope shields through a newsletter from the American Association of Endodontics. Grissom, who inquired about the shields, is grateful to see an invention of an endodontist in Ohio make a difference at UTSD, an impact he likened to “organized dentistry.”

“It’s great for the patient, dentist, and the assistant to know we’re doing everything we can to protect everyone during these uncertain times,” Kirkpatrick added.

The purpose of using a microscope is to be able to see, and, with the microscope shield, the Endodontics Clinic is able to keep the focus on the patient.

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