Stepping into the office of J. Tim Rainey DDS, Refugio residents will notice it’s more than just the teeth that are clean.

The dental office, located at 606 Osage St., has become a standard bearer in the area for cleanliness and patient care. The office is the baby of Rainey, who says he leads “two lives,” one as a general dentist practicing minimally invasive dentistry, and a second as a research scientist.

His research currently has the scientist working through the Lawrence Berkeley Advanced Light Source Laboratory, studying the best practices for dental hygiene.

“Since I started practice, I was aware that dental unit water lines were highly contaminated, something that was intentionally hidden by the dental industry from dentists and patients,” Rainey said. “This realization started a decades-long odyssey, a continuous work in progress.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States early in the year, Rainey and his office have put efforts “into overdrive” with modifications and procedures to the facility.

The office procedures begin when a patient arrives, as he or she is screened in the parking lot in assigned parking spaces. The patient then walks into the waiting room, which has an Ozone generator on a timer to run for two hours each night, sterilizing the room. In addition, the office has an ultraviolet air sterilizer also set to timer, running during office hours.

In an effort to combat the contamination of dental unit water lines, Rainey has installed his patented “CleanAir/CleanWater” technology. The CleanAir unit delivers dry, oil-free air, with no moisture reaching the storage tank. Outside of the office is a vacuum breaker on the incoming water line, which prevents any contaminants from flowing back into the main water supply.

“The air and water entering our office go through extensive decontamination,” Rainey said.

When a patient arrives in the chair, he or she will know that the environment is made just for them. After each patient leaves the chair, the entire room is fogged using hypochlorous acid, which Rainey calls “a very effective surface decontaminate (that) has a residual effect lasting days.” Dentist garments are also fogged down using the substance.

While in the chair, patients will see a chaired “plume” collector. This feature, Rainey says, serves two purposes. In addition to collecting spray from dental procedures in the patient’s mouths, the device also acts as a “negative air pressure” generator, providing further decontamination.

To complete the office overhaul was the water itself, as Rainey installed three ozonated water machines, using the water as a surface disinfectant and for patient treatment procedures.

Ozonated water, says Rainey, is “the most potent antioxidant available,” and keeps dental unit water lines from becoming contaminated. The water also works to decontaminate any injury to tissue occurred during a procedure, lessening the amount of after-procedure soreness on a patient.

To ensure sterile, ozonated water, Rainey has developed the only patented and FDA approved dental unit for water delivery directly to the patient treatment site.

“The most contaminated thing on the planet is a strawberry, because of all the little seeds ... it’s very difficult to decontaminate a strawberry,” Rainey said. “We can decontaminate it in a minute.”

A clean patient experience is all the more important during the pandemic, with Rainey understanding the importance of his role.

“What the dentist does in the back room affects the people in the front desk,” he said. “Our people are not affected because of the systems we’ve put in place.”

•tleffler@mysoutex.com•

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