Charlotte dentist becomes first in country to install new tech to fight COVID-19

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Unlike other doctor’s offices, patients can’t wear a mask while seeing a dentist.

To beef up protections against the virus, patients at Dr. Sergei Shirman’s office at Dental Wellness of Charlotte in south Charlotte sit under a special shield during an exam.

The piece of equipment is called the “Safe-T-Shield.” It uses a Hepa filtration system, which works to remove and disinfect particles escaping from a patient’s mouth. Shirman said whatever comes out of the patient’s mouth is less likely to come in contact with the doctor or his staff.

“I definitely wanted to come up with something safe and secure for everyone that comes to the practice,” Shirman said.

The Safe-T-Shield was developed by Design Ergonomics. It selected Shirman’s office to be the first in the country to have it because of his commitment to safety.

The company’s President, Dr. David Ahearn, said it’s something they’ve been working on for a while, but there’s a demand now. He’s only aware of a few cases of COVID-19 at dental offices, believing this will slow the spread even more.

“I feel safer in an office that is running filtration like this than any restaurant or shopping facility. It’s probably safer than my house,” Ahearn said.

Ahearn said researchers in Utah and the CDC are looking into the effectiveness of this technology. While Shirman’s office is the first in the country to install it, the company has 500 to 600 machines on pre-order.

“It makes me feel like I am establishing a gold standard of safety within the community and probably in the entire United States,” Shriman said.

Shirman went above and beyond at his practice. In addition to installing the Safe-T-Shield, he’s altered the duct system, has UV filtration and plasma ionization.