Infection Control and Dental Sterilization

With COVID-19, many dental practices across the country were closed to everything but emergency services. Now that things are slowly loosening, regular dental services are able to be offered again. Dr. Raymond Ribitch of Mid Michigan Smiles, a dentist in Mt. Pleasant, MI, discusses the infection control and sterilization protocols in our office.

Following the CDC and ADA Guidelines

These two agencies have been working together since 1993 to develop and implement infection control guidelines for the dental industry. They continue to work to ensure that the most updated techniques and technologies are being recommended and used. A CDC document contains tools and checklists so that dental workers can make sure they’re following all of the proper protocols.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE is necessary for the safety of both patients and staff. One of the most important components is disposable gloves. Gloves are changed between patients and after surfaces like the computer are touched. Depending on the dental services that are being performed, gloves may be changed many times with one patient. Proper handwashing techniques are followed before a pair of gloves is put on.

Patients are given bibs and staff is given a protective covering to avoid bodily fluids contaminating clothing or skin. Eye protection and masks are both worn as standard PPE for dental workers. Due to COVID-19, medical personnel is also recommended to wear full-face shields to avoid anything at all passing between patients and staff.

Disinfection and Sterilization Techniques

Due to the nature of dental work, it’s necessary that some tools are reused between patients. This means that the highest standard of sterilization must be met for them. For high-risk tools, like those used for oral surgery or periodontal therapy, this means heat sterilization. Lower-risk tools also receive this treatment when they’re able to handle the high temperatures that come with it.

Other dental tools are fully disposable or have crucial parts that are. Patients can know they’re getting something new at the start of their appointment. For surface sterilization, like for blood pressure cuffs or exam chairs, they’re thoroughly wiped down with a disinfection solution. This technique is also used in high-traffic areas like the reception desk and surfaces in the waiting room.

With COVID-19, you may notice stricter protocols. We’re limiting the number of people that are allowed in our waiting room at once. We may have you call us when you get here and wait until we come to the parking lot to get you. Masks, COVID-19 questionnaires, and temperature checks may be required before you can enter the building. We’ll have hand sanitizer inside to use, and possibly a disinfectant oral rinse.

Your Dentist in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

We’re ready to see our patients’ smiles! The health and safety of our patients is the top priority. Call us or schedule an appointment online.