Infection Control-Our Standard
As you are aware, there is a growing concern in the United States about the transmission of infectious diseases. Dr. Antonious is proud that Sunnyvale Dental Care’s sterilization protocol meets and exceeds the compliance regulations mandated by OSHA, CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and The American Dental Association for Infection Prevention and patient safety. In fact, Sunnyvale Dentist, Dr. Antonious has said, “Infection control in any dental setting is not only limited to practicing certain protocols or even using advanced dental technology to sterilize the instruments, it is definitely more than that, it involves a lot more commitment. It is about creating a culture of safety that encompasses that all staff be mindful at all times of the true meaning of a sterilized field and what it takes to maintain it for as long as needed.”
To reduce your concern about infectious disease transmission, here are few questions that will help you understand about sterilization and disinfection process at Sunnyvale Dental Care:
What is Infection Control?
Infection control is a set of recommended safety precautions that dentists implement to protect their patients and staff in the office. Strict infection control is required to prevent the spread of disease, since many dental procedures involve direct contact with blood and saliva. Improved infection-control procedures with heightened awareness of the dangers of infection mean that the instruments and supplies your dentist uses in your mouth are either heat-sterilized or they are disposable items intended for one-time use.
Today, these infection-control tools are required in all dental practices. To fight the spread of diseases, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B, syphilis and herpes viruses, your dentist has strict procedures and may use a variety of measures to ensure that instruments used during dental procedures are sterile. As an extra precaution, many dentists and their staff are vaccinated for hepatitis B, to prevent them from potentially passing it on to patients. Sterilizing dental instruments, a process that destroys all forms of microbial life, is also an important part of infection control in a dental office.
How else does my Dentist protect me?
Your dentist may use a variety of protective items that are used once and then thrown away, including gloves, masks, paper drapes, suction/water tube tips and needles.
Sunnyvale Dentist, Dr. Antonious and his assistants can use different kinds of protective gloves. Latex or vinyl gloves are used for patient examinations and procedures and are worn whenever skin could be in contact with body fluids. Between patients, the gloves are thrown away, the hands washed and a new set of gloves is used to treat the next patient. If you are allergic to rubber or latex, your dentist can wear nitrile gloves, which does not contain any latex or rubber proteins.
For cleaning and sterilizing instruments, heavy rubber utility gloves are used.
What are Universal Precautions?
Universal precautions, used for every patient, are safety procedures established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Dental Association (ADA). These precautions require all dental staff involved in patient care to use appropriate protective wear, such as gloves, masks and eyewear.
Do dentists sterilize the handpiece (drill) and other instruments after each patient?
Dentists sterilize handpieces and other instruments between patients to prevent the transmission of diseases. Dental offices follow and monitor specific heat-sterilization procedures, which are outlined by the CDC and the ADA.
- To start with, all instruments are placed in an ultrasonic cleaner for 15 minutes.
- All of the instruments are dried, wrapped or packaged with internal monitors for each set of instruments, to indicate that each set has been properly processed.
- Most dental instruments are sterilized in special machines; it takes much more than just soap and water to make sure instruments are free of bacteria. Recommended sterilization methods include placing these tools into an autoclave (steam under pressure), a dry-heat oven or chemical vapor (commonly called a chemiclave). Sunnyvale Dental Care uses steam autoclave for 40 minutes. Our sterilizer is tested for effectiveness on a weekly basis, according to CDC guidelines.
- The instrument packages are dated and kept in a safe place to maintain the sterility till the time of use.
How are other objects sterilized?
Before you enter the examination room, all surfaces, such as the dental chair, drawer handles and countertops are disinfected. To sterilize equipment that can’t be moved, such as X-ray units and countertops, disinfectant is applied after each patient to ensure a germ-free environment. Some offices may drape this equipment with protective covers, which are replaced after each patient. Disposable sharp items, such as needles, that cannot be sterilized are disposed of in puncture-resistant biohazard containers. Anything contaminated with blood or saliva is disposed of in special containers with safety lids.
Infection control and universal precautions protect patients and staff alike. Everyone benefits from rigorous infection control — you, your dentist, and the dental team. The cornerstone in a good and safe dental practice is the element of trust. You should feel free to discuss this topic with Dr. Antonious and receive a straightforward answer. You can ask our staff to show our sterilization room and how we sterilize our instruments.
Learn more when you visit Sunnyvale Dental Care. Call Sunnyvale Dentist Dr. Antonious at 408-720-0900 to schedule a consultation today!