Teal dental chair reclined behind white spit tap

Helping dental clinics meet post-Covid regulations in ventilation (Research and Development)

When Covid-19 struck, dental practices had to rapidly adjust their ventilation systems, facing a number of financial, resource and space-related challenges along the way. Thankfully, there was a company with a plan, embarking on a new research and development innovation that would yield multiple benefits.

Background info – A company with experience in research and development innovation

The company offer a comprehensive selection of options for all ventilation ductwork requirements, providing bespoke solutions to solve clients’ challenges.

With over 25 years of in-house experience, the company have built themselves a strong reputation for providing items that suit customers’ needs to the very last detail.

They have worked with an array of clients across many sectors to provide various forms of ventilation, integrated ductwork, filtration, insulation and acoustics services.

With a team of experienced and highly-skilled professionals – from designers to engineers – behind them, the company continue to stand out from their competitors. This team has led their innovation charge, improving the air handling systems and bespoke ventilation solutions to support the advancements of mechanical engineering.

Dental office with patient reclined in chair and dentist sitting alongside

Blurred view of busy dentists at work

The challenge – The demand for dentists to meet post-Covid regulations

The Covid-19 pandemic had considerable and devastating impact across pretty much every industry, with healthcare – and dental clinics in particular – being hit hard.

With the virus airborne, and spreadable through very small droplets released in exhaled breath, there was significant evidence to show that a lack of ventilation was a key factor in the spread of Covid-19.

With a quarter of the British public hesitant to return to dentists due to safety concerns, new post-Covid regulations were introduced to help mitigate the spread.

“Adequate ventilation is an important measure to mitigate the risk of Covid-19 transmission not only in clinical areas, but also in all occupied spaces throughout the dental practice, including reception, waiting rooms, staff areas and toilets,” stated a report from the NHS.

The regulations stated that the UK’s dental clinics would need to increase the amount of fresh air by around six to ten times the existing amount, replacing the air from once every hour to once every ten minutes.

This would cause considerable hurdles for dental clinics to overcome.

Not only did they now have to accelerate the amount of fresh air being circulated, they also had to modify limited spaces, as well as monitor noise and vibration levels that would be breached due to the increase in airflow.

The opportunity – Modifying and creating new ventilation approaches  

The company took on this exciting but challenging research and development (R&D) project to help dental clinics modify and improve their ventilation, as well as solve the challenges with space and noise.

The company began by undertaking a comprehensive literature review of existing industry best practices. This included the new post-Covid regulations for dental services, which stated that most dental surgeries should be in neutral pressure rooms.

The typical approaches adopted by the industry sought to replace existing ventilation systems with bigger ones, which need more space for bigger air handling units (AHU) to handle more fresh air supply flow rates.

However, space is often at a premium , meaning that this wasn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.

Therefore, the company began testing and modifying different AHUs in order to see whether they could handle the required increase in fresh air supply rates.

Not only that, but these AHUs also needed to handle the higher thermal load, a strain older AHUs would likely struggle to handle.

Dental chair in foreground, modern equipment visible in background

Inside the dental office

The next steps – Further research and development innovation

The company needed to find AHUs that were still small but possessed considerably more power – not an easy task.

The company held detailed discussions with their supplier and put forward their aim. From these meetings, they proposed using different types of AHUs that delivered large amounts of air, while still being small in size.

The next hurdle to overcome was the noise and vibration levels, which had increased significantly due to the regularity of air being pumped in.

Replacing the existing ductwork was being rallied as the only option, but it would have been considerably expensive and many dental clinics would struggle to afford it.

Luckily, the company’s ingenuity came to the rescue again, and they were able to:

  • Make certain modifications to the old design
  • Add more attenuators and flexible ducts
  • Keep the existing dimensions of the ductwork

Outcomes and impact

The R&D project brought significant benefits to both dental clinics around the UK and to the company themselves.

The team were able to make considerable design changes before installing and altering existing conditioning and ventilation systems.

These helped clinics whose buildings were previously not designed to meet the post-Covid regulations.

It also aided the company in their continued mission to stand out from their competitors and be known for their innovative approach to ventilation and other systems.

Looking to receive funding support on an existing or future R&D project? Contact Grantica to help make positive steps forward.

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