With COVID-19, dental practices across the country were closed to everything but emergency services. Now that things are slowly opening back up, many practices can offer regular dental services again. We want our patients to know that they can be safe in our office. Dr. Greg Reece of Dentistry of the Queen City, a dentist in Charlotte, NC, explains the standard dental sterilization techniques used by this dental practice, as well as stricter ones for COVID-19.
Following the Guidelines of the CDC and ADA
These two agencies started working together in 1993 to develop and implement infection control and sterilization guidelines for the dental industry. They continue to make sure that the latest and best techniques and technologies are being recommended and used. A CDC document contains checklists and tools for dental workers to ensure they’re following the proper protocols, even without the threat of a pandemic.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
PPE is a necessity for the safety of both our patients and staff. One of the most important components is disposable gloves. Gloves are changed between patients and when touching surfaces such as the computer. Depending on the dental services being performed, gloves may be changed multiple times with one patient to ensure cleanliness. Proper handwashing techniques are followed before a pair is put on.
Both patients and staff get a form of protective covering to prevent bodily fluids from contaminating clothing or skin. Masks are a standard part of PPE but will be worn even when procedures aren’t being performed due to COVID-19. Eye coverings for dental staff are standard as well. Since it’s recommended that medical personnel don full-face shields for COVID-19 prevention, you may notice these being used as well.
Sterilization and Disinfection Techniques
Due to the nature of dental work, it’s sometimes necessary for dental tools to be reused between patients. This means they have to be sterilized at the highest standard. For high-risk tools, such as those used for oral surgery and periodontal therapy, they’re sanitized with heat. This method is also used for lower-risk tools that are capable of handling the high temperatures.
Other tools are completely disposable or have crucial parts that are. Patients know they’re getting something sterile when they see the sealed package is opened at the beginning of their appointment. For surface sterilization, like for dental chairs, they’re thoroughly wiped down with a disinfectant solution. This method is also used in high-traffic areas like the reception desk and surfaces in the waiting room.
With COVID-19, you may notice some extra precautions. We’re trying to limit the number of people in our waiting room at one time. We may ask you to call us when you get here and wait in the parking lot for us to come to get you. Temperature checks, masks, and medical questionnaires may all be required before you can enter. We may also ask you to use a hand sanitizer or a disinfectant oral rinse when you’re in the office.
Stay Safe at Your Charlotte, North Carolina Dentist
We want our patients to know their safety is our top priority. We’re ready to see the smiling faces of our patients again! Call us or schedule an appointment online.