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Infection and disease control are always important for dentists, but now with the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe, it’s even more important that dentists are extra vigilant in their sanitization procedures and take even further precautions to keep themselves and their patients safe and healthy.
A thorough, meticulous, and methodical sanitization procedure that includes proper infection control practices enable dental practices to stop the spread of disease in its tracks by killing the bacteria responsible for spreading disease, before it ever reaches the patient. By eliminating germs, dentists keep themselves, their staff, and their patients from contracting serious communicable diseases such as HIV, Tuberculosis, Hepatitis, and others.
Here are some of the ways that dentists keep patients safe while they are being treated, and far after they leave the dentist’s chair. The practices we follow in our office are:
Proper Hand Washing Techniques
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), proper hand washing techniques are essential, and one of the most important steps in preventing the spread of disease.
Dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, and other members of the dental practice should always wash hands before and after treating a patient, before and after wearing protective gloves, after touching anything that has possibly been contaminated, and before and after coming to work, for at least twenty seconds with approved antibacterial soap.
Use of Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is designed to help protect the body from infections and injury. When you wear those dark glasses in the dental chair, you are wearing a piece of personal protective equipment that will prevent you from being exposed to dangerous materials and small flying debris, as well as shielding bright lights.
Surgical masks and gloves protect contamination from blood and saliva that can contain bacteria that carries disease and infections. Dentists and staff also take precautions by sterilizing uniforms and gowns as they may also come in contact with bodily fluids. PPE ensures both patients and dental staff are protected from infections and injuries.
Vaccinations for Dental Staff
Dentists and dental practice staff members should always be vaccinated in order to reduce the risk of infecting patients. Vaccinations significantly decrease the likelihood of infection in dentists and team members, giving peace of mind and an added layer of safety to patients who are being treated under their care.
Some of the most important vaccinations that dentists and staff should be treated for include the Flu, Measles, Tetanus, Chicken Pox, Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, and Pertussis.
Regularly Disinfecting and Sterilizing All Instruments and Equipment
After treating a patient, your dentist will use powerful cleansing agents specifically designed for medical and dental environments to completely disinfect all areas that a patient has come in contact with, ensuring the elimination of bacteria.
Countertops and accessible surfaces, dental instruments, and equipment, including the dental chair, are thoroughly wiped down and disinfected. Needles and syringes should also be disposed of via a designated receptacle that is puncture-proof.
Obtaining Patient Medical Histories
While it might seem unnecessary to fill out the many medical patient forms that your dentist asks you to complete prior to your dental treatment, keeping an accurate and up-to-date medical record and knowing a patient’s medical history allows your dentist to determine exactly which precautions to take.
For some patients, extra steps may need to be implemented in order to prevent the spread of communicable diseases such as, Hepatitis, Herpes, Staphylococci, Respiratory infections, and Lymphatic system disorders.
Steps That Matthews Family Dentistry Takes to Keep Patients Safe
Here at Matthews Family Dentistry, the safety, health, and well-being of our patients is always our number one priority. We ensure that all of the aforementioned disease prevention steps are implemented regularly at our practice, even when there isn’t a pandemic happening in our midst.
Our team follows a strict sterilization protocol as part of our routine, each and every day, that is above and beyond the current measures recommended by local officials, the CDC, and other medical professionals.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking additional sterilization measures to sanitize all public and private areas to ensure the safety of all who enter our practice. These steps include:
- Disinfection of all common surfaces, handles, and doorknobs multiple times, daily
- Increase in the frequency and thoroughness of our professional cleaning service
- OnGuard oil diffusers in the office (clinically shown to have antiviral properties)
- Review of prevention guidelines and OSHA disinfection standards with all team members
- Postponing of treatment for anyone who is presenting with symptoms or has recently travelled to a high-risk area
Please contact our office to schedule an appointment in a safe and sterilized office environment today!