Infection Control: Why It Matters
Signs to Look For
Whether you’re having a routine cleaning or a more serious dental procedure, infection control is important. Procedures established by the centers for Disease Control and Prevention effectively prevent transmission of infections (such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV) in the dental office. When you visit a dentist, look for these signs of good infection control.
Hands are the most common way diseases are transmitted. Your dentist, dental hygienist and all health care providers should wash their hands before every patient. If you don’t see them washing their hands before treating you, ask about it. Hand washing is good for you too. According to the CDC, hand washing prevents the spread of colds and flu.
Infection control requires that all dental staff involved in patient care to wear the appropriate protective gear such as gloves, masks, gowns and eyewear. After each patient, all disposable wear needs to be discarded.
All non-disposable dental instruments should be cleaned and sterilized between patients. Ask your dentist about the sterilization process used in their practice. Ask to see the sterilization area. Disposable items, like needles, should never be reused.
Before any patient enters the examining room, all surfaces need to be cleaned and decontaminated. Some offices may cover this equipment with protective covers, which are replaced after each patient.