Dental hygienist’s cross-infection innovation
Working as a hygienist, I despaired over the constant battle of trying to keep my appearance clean due to unsightly splatter marks caused by splash-back deposits such as prophy paste, air polish powder and, of course, blood and saliva contamination.
Keeping our tunics spotlessly clean is an on-going problem, so why is it that we protect ourselves with gloves, masks and goggles – yet we don’t protect our clothing?
More often than not a majority of the contamination has landed in the fibres of our tunics, which is then carried around with us all day.
Isn’t it important that we treat our patients without the evidence of the last patient’s treatment splattered across our chest?
As cross-infection plays such an important role in all our treatment then surely there’s a need to address this issue?
I’ve been working on this concept for over four years, which has now resulted in the new product Medi-Mates designed to combat splash-back contamination.
Originally, I was using a tissue tucked into the neck of my tunic but this didn’t work very well as keeping it there was quite a challenge!
A self-adhesive solution was the obvious way forward.
At this stage, I was advised to submit a patent application for the concept, so I involved a patent attorney in this process.
The next challenge was to find a reliable manufacturer to produce the prototype. This proved to be a difficult task.
When I initially put forward the idea and design to a manufacturer, they promised to deliver.
However, their ‘finished’ design was a big let-down. I was back to square one looking for another manufacturer.
It was about six months later that I managed to find someone who was willing to invest time and energy into my idea. A meeting was organised and the following 18 months were spent producing the quality prototype I have today.
There were many trials and tribulations to get the product right. The adhesive needed to be strong enough to stick but had to avoid damaging the clothing. It had to be easy to use but at the same time discreet.
Many attempts were made to get it right, with many set-backs, but finally in 2009, just before Christmas, I received the finished item.
After such a long journey to get to this point, as well as the patience and financial investment needed, it was such a great feeling to see my original idea made into a real product – and hopefully become a crucial aid in the protection against cross-infection.
At this point, I then designed the dispenser box, which was also finally produced by the same manufacturer. Lastly, I was advised to register the name Medi-Mates.
As a hygienist, I find Medi-Mates invaluable – but they can be used by the whole dental team – and in surgical procedures they are essential.
One of the great features of Medi-Mates is that they are discreet as patients are often not aware that you are wearing them. They are easy to apply and remove too.
Selling in boxes of 50, I hope to promote Medi-Mates at dental shows in the future and my next step is to get the interest of a suitable dental supplier, as well as develop two sizes – medium and large.
In the future my ambition is to see Medi-Mates in all surgeries used as an essential item and worn alongside our gloves, masks and goggles.
For more information about them, please email me at [email protected].