We sometimes overlook the fact of safe and cleanliness of a dental surgery or dentist’s office. Because you may have contacted them via phone or just look for how cheap they are. How can you know the dentist office that you go to is safe and how do you know the dental instruments are clean?
First and foremost, there is a standard of care that you should expect from your dentist. There are several things to look for in your office that will show that your dentist values sterilization, cleanliness, and the health of his/her patients. Here are a few things to observe at your next visit to hopefully put your mind at ease:
What to look in a Dental Surgery
- Cleanliness: Is the office cluttered? Counters full of items are more difficult to keep clean. Clutter shows a lack of commitment to cleanliness. Is the bathroom clean? Again, this is a sign of the importance of cleanliness to the doctor and the staff. Do you see plenty of hand soap and hand sanitizer available and is the staff using them? Are there linoleum or tile floors instead of carpet that holds germs? Are the staff dressed appropriately with lab coats on and hair pulled up and away from themselves and the patient?
- Gloves: Gloves should be taken from a glove box not off of a counter top. The dentist or hygienist should first wash their hands or use sanitizer before putting on gloves and once they are on they should not touch anything other than sterile instruments, covered light handles, or your mouth. If anything else is touched they should put on new gloves. If they leave the room they should remove the gloves before leaving and put new ones on upon returning. No exceptions.
- Disinfection and Sterilization: What do they do after a patient leaves a room? Ask where they discard their needles and sharps. There should be a separate container that is used for this reason only. How and where do they sterilize their instruments? It should be a separate sterilization room. Do they have records for their sterilization units? Ask to see them.
- Instruments: Check the instruments on the tray because these are your instruments. All instruments should be in a sterilization bag that is opened in front of you. Most of these bags have an indicator that confirms sterilization. Ask to see it.
- Ask questions: A good dentist and his/her staff are happy to answer your questions and are proud of the precautions that they take to protect your health.
Despite recent articles in the news, cross contamination and infection are a rare occurrence. This is because dentists and their staff are required to follow strict state and federal guidelines. The risk of your health being affected by not seeing the dentist is far greater than the risk of cross infection. At your next appointment, be attentive. Make it a point to have not only your mouth open but also your eyes.
This article is provided on behalf of West Palm Beach dentist Dr. Sam Sadati, www.floridasmiles.com