Infection Control Procedures

If you have been a patient of record at this office for any length of time, you know that we have been concerned with proper infection control procedures long before it became a regulation for dentistry. We wear gloves for every patient. The gloves are used once and then discarded. Since the 1970s, we have used eye protection and masks for procedures during which there may be an aerosol spray or splatter of potentially infectious materials. That was a long time before it became a requirement. If you are new to the office, please know that we have always taken infection control and your safety, as well as our own, seriously.

All instruments that are to be reused are properly cleaned according to the most current infection control protocol appropriate to dentistry. Instruments are then placed in pouches and sterilized. The pouches are opened in the presence of a patient only as they are needed for a dental procedure. We have been sterilizing instruments this way for years, long before any governmental regulations.

When possible, we purchase single-use only, disposable items, which are properly discarded after one use. The cost of disposable items is greater than the cost of reusable dental products and instruments.

Our dental handpieces have always been disinfected and sterilized according to the manufacturers’ directions. All handpieces are sterilized after each use. Each year, we spend thousands of dollars on new handpieces and on repairing handpieces damaged by the sterilization process.

We have always been concerned with proper sterilization: this is not new for this office. What is new is the cost. With the greater demand for sterilization and disinfection products universally, the cost to us has risen dramatically. Calculations show that sterilization procedures add considerable cost to a patient visit−between 8 and 15 dollars per patient visit. This cost estimate covers sterilization and disinfection supplies, increased cost of more frequent purchases and repairs of dental handpieces, and the cost in time (approximately 12 to 15 minutes) to properly clean the treatment room after each use. These added costs are considerable. Dental insurance carriers have not yet increased payments to reflect the increased costs.

We are unwilling to compromise your health and our health by not following proper infection control guidelines. We follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) guidelines (for the employee and workplace) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines (for the patient). Other than the newly required mountain of paperwork, our office did not have to make any changes to meet the CDC guidelines; we were already following all the proper infection control guidelines and procedures.

If you have any questions about infection control procedures, please feel free to ask us.

 

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