Combatting Covid with our building technology

Fulham Road Dental Practice is fitted with a state of the art air ventilation system that helps to combat Covid and air born disease.

  • The air in the surgeries is changed with fresh air from outside every 6 minutes, *(this is based on the 10 air changes per hour)
  • Each surgery is ventilated through its own independent system meaning that cross contamination of air between rooms is not possible.
  • The rooms are ventilated though sophisticated heat recovery systems to minimise heat loss and maximise efficiency of the building.

Fulham Road Dental was built with the vision to provide an exceptional patient experience by delivering the highest level of dental care in a unique practice setting. The practice, was designed to provide a warm, calming and comfortable setting for our patients.

In addition to providing a memorable practice environment, we set ourselves the goal of being the destination of choice for a talented team and equipping our clinic with the latest medical technology and creating a culture of teamwork and collaboration. Our uncompromising approach attracted renowned dentists in their respective field working together to create a multi-disciplinary practice.

Every step of the planning process for the refurbishment has had these core objectives in mind.

The emergence of COVID-19 has imposed major restrictions on the provision of dental health services across the UK.  We found ourselves having to fundamentally change our planned standard operating procedures to ensure that we could provide a safe environment for both our staff and patients. The biggest impact to our new operating procedures has been the requirement for fallow time (i.e. downtime) between patient appointments in the same surgery. This requirement is especially relevant following a dental procedure involving an Aerosol  – (commonly referred to as an Aerosol generating procedure AGP) and has the potential to have a major impact on the number of patients we would be able to treat.

The process of trying to solve this restriction starts with a basic understanding of what we are trying to solve. Most of the general public would not have come across the term AGP until the emergence of COVID-19. An aerosol is defined as a substance enclosed under pressure and released as a fine spray by means of a propellant gas. In a dental setting, aerosol particles are created when this spray moves over the tooth surface and mix with bacteria and microorganisms found around the mouth area. Aerosols are produced by a range of dental procedures using high energy instruments, like a dental drill, mechanised scalers and air polishers. These AGP’s can contaminate the air and surfaces around the dental chair and can pose a risk of transmission, especially for highly infectious viruses like COVID-19.

These aerosols can be removed by natural ventilation like an open window, mechanical ventilation, or ‘air-purifiers’. There is a lack of scientific evidence for the efficiency of air purifiers and their quality is questionable, and natural ventilation can be very slow. The efficiency of a ventilation system is defined by the number of air changes per hour (“ACH”). This represents the length of time it takes to completely change the air in the room.

The most effective way to remove these aerosols is the installation of a mechanical ventilation system that can significantly reduce the risk of infection transmission and therefore fallow time.

Installation of the appropriate ventilation system at Fulham Road Dental therefore became a prerequisite to providing a safe patient and clinician environment and reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Our biggest challenge in deciding on the appropriate system was making a determination on how long the UK guidance would be in effect. The decision was furthermore complicated by the significant increase in cost of the ventilation system that would meet these requirements. After hours of research and debate amongst ourselves we decided that the right course of action was to install one of the best ventilation systems that not just met, but outperformed these requirements on the basis that we felt it unlikely that they were likely to change any time soon. We also felt that we had an obligation to provide the secure working environment that we felt would give our clinicians and patients peace of mind. Even if the guidance changed in the future we felt that maintaining fresh air could only be a good thing.

In consultation with our architectural designer and MP Cooling, one of London’s premier commercial air conditioning service providers, we have designed a ventilation system for each surgery with the following specifications:

  • A separate heating and cooling zone allowing each dentist to set their own temperature when working. The rooms are ventilated though sophisticated heat recovery systems to minimise heat loss and maximise efficiency of the building and thereby contributing to our ESG efforts
  • A duct system for each surgery that is separate from other surgeries and runs directly to the outside. There is therefore no chance of cross contamination of air within surgeries
  • The ducts have a diameter of 200mm allowing us to achieve an ACH of 10 – 12 allowing fresh air in the surgeries approximately every 6 minutes

The installation of this ventilation system has allowed us to reduce fallow time so we can provide an efficient service for our patients, and provide a safe environment in our surgeries and consequently. It was an important decision for us given the cost of refurbishment implications but as a leadership team we are delighted with the outcome and can’t wait to welcome both patients and clinicians to Fulham Road Dental.