Just like doctor’s offices and hospitals, dental offices are clinical settings where dedicated staff work at planning and producing procedures to reduce the spread of infection. Of course, no doctor or dentist wants to make a patient sicker. In the past, dental infection control was left to each practice’s own judgement about how best to minimize the chances an infection gains a foot hold in the office and spreads. This led to uneven levels of risk. That’s why today’s dental offices follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC has established standard guidelines for dental offices to follow, which include basic hygienics, and prep and planning for any contingencies. This goes beyond the office activities that patients see every day, such as covering equipment, changing linings and pillows on the dental chair, and sterilizing tools. Many of the dental tools used need to be disposed of after each use, such as needles, and all staff must wear protective covering such as gloves and gowns.
In adhering to the new guidelines, dental offices must make plans for various contingencies. Not only does an office need to actively prevent infections, they need to be ready to deal with the fallout of different kinds of hazards that could lead to an outbreak. This includes plans to deal with and notify proper authorities in the case of exposure to bloodborne pathogens. It is also the office staff’s job to notify patients of any necessary or required vaccinations.
With these dental infection control practices patients can be as safe as possible from infection whichever dental practice they choose.