You probably know that dentistry is about much more than just cleaning teeth and filling cavities. While dentists, hygienists and Dental Assistants may focus on the health of your teeth and gums, they also pay close attention to your overall health and safety, and their own. Dental patients and personnel are often exposed to bodily fluids such as blood and saliva that carry potential risks including tuberculosis, staphylococci, hepatitis B and streptococci. That’s why infection control is so important. Mistakes could make people sick. Does your dental team do all they can to keep you safe and healthy? The next time you go to your dentist, make sure they measure up. Check out the safety methods below, which are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control:
Obtain Patients’ Medical History
Does your dentist or Dental Assistant regularly update your medical history? They should ask questions regarding current, past, and recurring illnesses, infections, and medications. This will help them take necessary precautions to keep you and all their patients safe.
Wear Protective Clothing and Gloves
Reusable or disposable gowns, lab coats, surgical masks, and protective eyewear should be worn whenever there is a risk of blood or saliva splattering. A fresh pair of gloves should be worn with each patient. Gloves are imperative when the dentist and dental assistant touch blood, saliva, secretions, mucous membranes, surfaces contaminated with them, and oral lesions. If gloves are torn or punctured, they should immediately be removed and the dental staff must wash their hands before putting on a fresh pair. They should also always wash their hands between pairs of gloves.
Cover and Clean Potentially Contaminated Surfaces
Any surfaces — such as light handles and X-ray unit heads — that can be contaminated by blood or saliva should be covered with aluminum foil or clear plastic wrap that is replaced between each patient. After a patient is treated, any area possibly contaminated by blood or saliva should be wiped with a towel, then disinfected.
Wash Hands Frequently
In addition to washing their hands between changing gloves, the dentist and staff should wash their hands after touching objects that may haven’t been contaminated by blood or saliva. Even if they wear gloves, frequent hand-washing is a must because gloves can get holes in them and allow microorganisms in.
Handle Sharp Instruments and Needles Safely
Needles, scalpels, and other sharp instruments have the potential to cause injury and become contaminated. To avoid transferring infections, these items should be disposed of in puncture-resistant containers near where they are used.
Sterilize Tools Properly
Any tools, such as forceps, scalpels and bone chisels, which regularly penetrate soft tissue, should be cleaned and sterilized after each use. Anyone involved in the cleaning and sterilization should protect their hands with heavy duty rubber gloves.
Dispose of Waste Properly
Any sharp items, tissues, blood, and other fluids should be considered potentially infected. Sharp items and tissues should be disposed of using procedures that follow local or state regulations, while fluids should be poured into a drain connected to a sanitary sewer system.
When it comes to preventing the spread of infection, does your dentist measure up? We hope so. At Charter College, we train Dental Assistants to fill the integral role in infection control at dental practices of ensuring that the above precautions are taken, along with a variety of other duties necessary to ensure the safety of dental patients and personnel. Find out more about all our healthcare programs by giving us a call at 888-200-9942 today.