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Make Staff Adjustments

You may be operating on a reduced schedule and may not need to maintain a full staff. Employees may be unavailable because of personal hardship. Evaluate how much and what kind of assistance you will need, and adjust accordingly.

You may need substitute personnel until things return to normal. It's a good idea to know where you can find a reliable agency that will provide people with the skill levels you require. If your building is not habitable, implement your plan to practice from a designated alternative location, and keep your staff informed.

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Dental Office Clean-up

Re-open a Dental Practice

If you and/or your staff are going to participate in clean-up efforts, exercise caution by wearing heavy-duty gloves, eye protection, hard hats and lightweight masks. Unless you are certain to the contrary, assume floodwaters contain sewage waste. Disinfect your clothing when you return home. Be careful not to expose anyone to physical risk when working around mold or other environmental conditions. Mold and mildew can release spores into the air, causing allergic reactions. Watch for symptoms such as:

  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Fatigue


Generally, you can save paper records and files by separating them and laying them out on a flat, dry surface. If you are unable to do this within 24 hours, place them in a freezer. Cold temperatures keep mold from forming. Museums have preserved books in this manner for up to 10 years before starting the reclamation process.


Hire a professional firm to assist you if you can, but in a widespread disaster, it may be difficult to get someone promptly. There are some things you can do.

  • Practice basic hygiene. Wash your hands with disinfectant soap after touching debris or anything that may have come in contact with contaminated materials. If there is no running water, fill a beverage cooler (or similar container that has a spout) with clean water and transport it to the site. If you have running water, but its purity is suspect, add a tablespoon of bleach to each gallon and use it only for washing.
  • If moisture is present, open windows and doors and use the outside air to help dry your office. Use exhaust fans and dehumidifiers if you have them. Open drawers and cabinets. Unwrap anything you covered with plastic.
  • If water has penetrated walls, floors or ceilings, they should be opened up, cleaned, decontaminated and totally dried. It is likely they will have to be replaced, but releasing trapped water and allowing areas to dry out will reduce mold production.
  • Check with local authorities about removing wet insulation or other building materials. Discard all non-essential paper files and paper products.
  • Remove waterlogged carpet as soon as possible to avoid causing more damage to the floor. You may be able to save expensive carpet if it can be cleaned and dried quickly, but carpet padding must be discarded.
  • Scrub floors and woodwork within 48 hours using firm brushes and disinfectant. Wipe them down and allow them to dry thoroughly.
  • Discard upholstered furniture if it has been exposed to water or contaminated materials. Wood furniture may be salvageable if you can clean and disinfect it promptly. Allow it to dry slowly. Metal surfaces must be disinfected.
  • It is important to try to prevent mold and mildew growth. Common bleach can be effective in killing mold spores on non-porous surfaces, such as stainless steel. Wipe the item down thoroughly and dry it well. Bleach does not work as well on porous surfaces, such as wood flooring.

There are some EPA-registered products that are considered effective in killing mold and fungus on all types of solid surfaces. Check with your local cleaning products vendor or look for them at local building supply stores.

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Closing a Dental Practice

The ADA offers resources to guide the closing of a dental practice. For more information, contact

Return to Top Thank you to the Florida Dental Association and Florida Dental Health Foundation for providing significant contributions to this content, which were funded in part from the American Dental Association Foundation.