Our dental professionals in Seattle do a lot of dirty work to ensure that our oral health is at its best. From a regular dental cleaning, filling a cavity to performing a root canal surgery, they are always attentive to our specific conditions and personal preferences on how to deal with the issue. It’s of utmost importance that the workspace of any health care profession remains germ-free, and this is the same for a dentist office as well.
If you ever wonder how they achieve this, we have the answer.
Instrument and Equipment Cleaning
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a protocol for how dental instrument and equipment need to be cleaned and disinfected. The tools used are classified into one of these three categories based on the risk of infection transmission:
Critical Include instruments that are used to penetrate soft tissue or bone, which are most likely to come in contact with blood and other bodily fluids. These instruments include scalers, scalpels, forceps, and bone chisels. Critical instruments need to be sterilized after each use. Accepted methods of disinfecting are autoclaving, dry heat or heat/chemical vapor.
Semi-critical instruments come into contact with mucous membranes (such as the inside of your cheeks) or non-dry skin. These instruments include dental mirrors, impression trays, and amalgam condensers. They are required to be sterilized by dry heat after each use.
Non-critical These are instruments that touch the intact skin only. These include blood pressure cuffs, X-ray heads, and pulse oximeters. They can be reused between patients without skin diseases, and only required an intermediate-level or low-level disinfection. Intermediate-level is classified as a hospital disinfectant or “tuberculocidal,” meaning it kills the bacteria that causes tuberculosis and a host of other bacteria and viruses. Low-level disinfectants can be used in a hospital setting, but the list of pathogens that they do not kill are usually larger, which is why they are considered low-level.
Due to the nature of the work of healthcare professionals, proper hand washing techniques is crucial to infection control. According to the CDC, an alcohol-based hand sanitizing solution may be used in all cases except for when hands are covered in visible dirt or debris. If a dentist’s hands are visibly tainted, they are required to wash them with soap and water. The CDC suggests performing hand hygiene procedure under these conditions:
- The dentist’s hands are visibly soiled.
- After the dentist uses bare hands to touch equipment that can be contaminated by blood, saliva, and other secretions.
- Before and after the treatment of each patient.
- Before putting on gloves and immediately upon glove removal.
Surface Contamination and Office Cleanliness
Work surfaces, floors, and desktops are all examples of surfaces which can host a lot of germs and pathogens. The CDC states that a dental office contains two types of surface: clinical contact surfaces and housekeeping surfaces.
Clinical contact surfaces include items and surfaces that might come into direct contact with bodily substances. For example, the handles on lights, drawers, faucets, countertops, and chairs. These are the objects that are often touched by the dentist and patient during an operation or procedure. These surfaces, if not covered by plastic wraps, sheets or bags, then they should be regularly cleaned between patients with an EPA-registered hospital disinfectant. These surfaces should also be cleaned at the conclusion of every workday.
Housekeeping surfaces, for example, floors, walls, and sinks are less infection-prone surfaces within an office. They often have little chances of contamination and can be cleaned with regular detergent and water. The floor should be cleaned most regularly according to the CDC.
Education and Training
Every dental office should offer its staff regular protocol checkups and re-education on disinfection and cross-contamination procedures to ensure that they are performed correctly. The CDC recommends that training covers safety guidelines for both employees and patients to protect both parties from infection and future disputes and lawsuits. As a healthcare office, a dental office needs to uphold a medical-standard to ensure a germ-free environment, as required by the federal and state governments.
When a dental issue arises, you need to be able to trust your dentist to fix your oral issue. It’s also important to make sure that the office follows the same hygiene standards to ensure that you everyone involved with potentially dangerous pathogens remain safe and healthy.
Icon Dental is an affordable, clean & friendly dental office in Seattle – get in touch with us today to see how we can help you maintain a healthy set of teeth.