Deciphering COVID Jargon at the Dentist

It seems in our modern age jargon abounds. People use acronyms, abbreviations, and initialisms as well as industry-specific colloquialisms which can often render entire sentences undecipherable to the average person. 

Understanding COVID jargon has been a vertical learning curve for many of us. It’s pretty important, though, that we grasp the proper meaning behind it. So, we’re making sure that our valued patients know what we mean when we start spouting COVID jargon.

COVID Jargon in the Dental Clinic


Personal protective equipment (PPE) has been a hot topic across the globe, so we’re sure you know what we’re referring to. PPE refers to all items of clothing and equipment which are designed to protect the wearer from infection or injury. 

These can include masks, gloves, helmets, goggles, and entire hazmat suits.

Fallow time

In COVID jargon, fallow time refers to the period (NHS guideline is 60 minutes) following the disinfection of a room where the droplets can settle. 

Many disinfectants are deployed in aerosol form and these fine droplets require time to descend out of the air that we breathe, and onto the surfaces which they will be sanitizing.


An aerosol-generating procedure (AGP) is a procedure that creates airborne particles.

An example of this in dentistry is anything that we need to use a drill or a scaler and can result in a fine mist of droplets in the air. 


Non-aerosol-generating procedures (Non-AGP) consists of those which are unlikely or not at risk of generating airborne particles such as routine check-up.

FFP2/ FFP3 mask

When we talk of masks, we understand that they are not all created equal and we need to determine what is needed in our particular circumstances. 

Filtering Face Piece (FFP) is the classification of the various protective classes and range from 1 – 3.

The filter capacity is shown as the percentage of removed particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter or larger. To put this into perspective, a human hair is around 50 – 70 microns in diameter, so these masks really do protect us from an invisible enemy. 

Figure 1 Source: ABCDUST.NET

  • FFP1 masks are shown to offer a filter efficiency of 78- 80% and are suitable for protecting against dust and other irritants in working environments. These are suitable for the building or food industry, but not in environments where toxic dust or aerosols are present.
  • FFP2 masks protect against irritating solid and liquid aerosols and smoke with a 92% efficacy. “Protection class FFP2 respirator masks are often worn in the metal and mining industry. Workers in these industries are frequently in contact with aerosols, fog and smoke that result in conditions of the respiratory system such as lung cancer in the long term.” (Source)
  • FFP3 masks protect against toxic solid and liquid aerosols and smoke with a known efficacy of 98%. They offer maximum protection from air pollution and toxins and are commonly used in medical and chemical fields. 


The British Dental Association (BDA) says of their function, “We are the voice of dentists and dental students in the UK. We bring dentists together, support our members through advice and education, and represent their interests.

“As the trade union and professional body, we represent all fields of dentistry including general practice, community dental services, the armed forces, hospitals, academia, public health and research.”

The BDA has been very involved in maintaining the critical balance between the need for ongoing dental treatments in the UK and the safety of their members. 


Public Health England (PHE) is the executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care to caters to the health of the UK nation. 

“PHE has operational autonomy from DHSC and has an Advisory Board with a non-executive Chair and non-executive members.

“It works transparently, proactively providing government, local government, the NHS, MPs, industry, public health professionals and the public with evidence-based professional, scientific and delivery expertise and advice.”

Have you been bamboozled by COVID jargon or find yourself baffled by acronyms? 

You’re not alone. But we hope that we have solved a few of those puzzles and you can now launch into the current social narrative with confidence.

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