Controlling and managing aerosol with potential infectious pathogens generated during dental procedures in dental offices is a serious health concern to both patients and staff, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. One way to try and control the spread of potentially infectious pathogens is by the use of Negative Air Pressure Rooms or NAPR. We talked about this subject on our weekly radio show, and you can listen to it here.
What is NAPR and Why Use It?
NAPR are rooms designed for isolation of airborne infectious pathogens, where the air pressure inside the room is lower than the surrounding adjacent rooms/ spaces. The purpose of an NAPR is to isolate and prevent airborne pathogens from escaping the room and potentially spreading the pathogens to the surrounding areas and/or the entire building and infecting the occupants.
Is the Use of NAPR Required?
Negative Pressure spaces, as to date, are not mandated for dental offices either by building codes or agencies with jurisdictional authority; however, ASHRAE (The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) do recommend Negative Pressure for spaces with infectious aerosol concerns.
Can an Existing Room/Space be Converted to NAPR?
The answer is not so simple and should be assessed by an architect or engineers to determine all building components and systems affected or involved with retrofitting the existing room into a negative air pressure room. The three key components that will dictate whether the individual space is viable to be retrofitted into an NAPR are: Wall assembly, mechanical system design, and doors. Due to operational, functional, and economical factors, NAPR are limited to a few dedicated rooms within the Healthcare facilities and not an entire wing or building; specifically for dental offices, NAPR rooms would be specific to one or all treatment rooms, as preferred by the dentist owner.
Yes, if the existing perimeter walls of the room can be extended to the roof structure above, doors can be added to enclose the current open doorways and meet the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards and Requirements. Lastly, the mechanical system can be reworked so that potential contaminated air within the room is not recirculated back into the system but exhausted out of the room instead.
Can You Close Off Treatment Rooms in Your Office?
Closing off the Treatment Rooms by adding doors to the existing doorways is one of the prerequisites of retrofitting an existing treatment room into an NAPR. Adding doors to the door opening may trigger the ADA compliance requirements. Depending on the width of the treatment room and the 12 o’clock cabinet width, the physical width of the treatment room may not allow the retrofitting without enlarging the room width to 9’-0” to 10’8”+/- including a 3’-0” wide 12 o’clock cabinet and type of door hardware use. Again, consult with an architect or engineers to help you assess the viability and or options, if an NAPR is to be part of your infection control strategy.
Is the Use of NAPR Practical?
There are other effective options and technologies that can be used as part of the strategies to manage and battle against infectious pathogens, with or without having NAPR. Consult with an architect or engineers to assist you with fully understanding what all is involved and solution options that are right for you.
Why Choose HJT
Your dental office is a direct representation of you, the dentist, and your visions. It’s important that it reflects you and the quality of care you provide to your patients. We welcome the opportunity to bring your visions to light through insightful designs that meet your clinical requirements and aesthetic criteria while optimizing efficiency and functionality for your practice’s everyday needs.
With our years of collective knowledge and experience we have a deep understanding of the functionality and unique needs within the dental industry. We invite you to contact HJT (866) 213-1268 to start the dialogue regarding a plan for your current or new office and how we can implement your unique visions. We look forward to talking with you soon.