The last time you visited your dentist’s office, you probably noticed that the dentist, hygienist and assistant were wearing gloves, mask and eye protection. Perhaps you also noticed special coverings on the dental instruments and equipment.
These special safety precautions are called universal precautions and are used for every patient in the dental practice to prevent the transmission of any infectious diseases.
These precautions require all dental staff providing patient care to use appropriate protective wear such as gloves and, sometimes, masks and eyewear. After each patient visit, the gloves are discarded, hands are washed and a new pair of gloves is used for the next patient.
If you want to know how your dental office cleans and sterilizes its dental instruments, ask to see the sterilization room.
A lot of the sterilization and cleaning takes place before you enter the exam room. For example, all surfaces, including the dental chair, dental light, drawer handles and countertops, are thoroughly cleaned. Some offices may cover this equipment with protective covers, which are replaced after each patient.
Don’t let questions about safety keep you away from the dentist’s office, or cause stress while you’re there, when a short chat with your dentist can set your mind at ease.
Your dental health is too important to ignore. Remember to learn the facts about your dentist’s infection control procedures by talking with your dentist.
Checklist for Dental Patients
Your dentist cares about your health and well-being. Next time you visit your dentist, watch how each of the following procedures and items is handled:
- Washing hands and changing gloves
- Wearing protective clothing
- Sterilizing and disinfecting instruments and equipment
- Keeping the office spotlessly clean
- Properly cleaning dental hand pieces
- Using throwaway items
- Proper disposal of waste