Due to the COVID-19 crisis, dental practices across the country were closed to everything but emergency care. Now that things are slowly opening up, offices are able to perform regular dental procedures again. We want our patients to know they’re safe in our office. Dr. Brock W. Hyder and Dr. Dennis J. Garpetti of LIFESmiles Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, a dentist in Boise, ID, explain infection control protocols in the office.
Complying With the CDC and ADA Guidelines
Since 1993, these two agencies have been working together to develop and implement infection control and sterilization guidelines for the dental industry. They continue to update these to ensure the newest and best technologies and techniques are being used. A CDC document provides checklists and tools for dental workers to make sure they’re following the proper protocols, even without a pandemic looming.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
PPE is necessary for the safety of both patients and staff. One of the most important PPE components is disposable gloves. Gloves are changed between patients and when surfaces like the computer are touched. 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.
Protective coverings are given to both patients and staff to avoid bodily fluids contaminating skin or clothing. Masks are a normal part of dental PPE but are now worn even when procedures aren’t being performed. Eye protection is also standard for dental PPE. It’s recommended that medical personnel wear full-face shields for COVID-19 precautions, so you may see workers wearing this as well.
Disinfection and Sterilization Techniques
Due to how dental procedures are performed, sometimes tools have to be reused between patients. This means the highest standards of sterilization have to be met. For high-risk tools, like those used for oral surgery or periodontal therapy, this means heat sterilization. Lower-risk tools are also treated in this way when the materials can handle the high temperatures of the sterilization.
Other dental tools are completely disposable or contain crucial parts that are. Patients know they’re getting something new when the sealed package is opened at the beginning of the appointment. For sterilizing surfaces, like blood pressure cuffs and dental chairs, a thorough wipedown with a disinfectant solution is done. This is also performed in high-traffic areas like the reception desk and waiting room surfaces.
With COVID-19, you may notice more precautions. We’re limiting the number of people allowed in the waiting room at one time. We may ask you to call when you get here and wait in the parking lot until we get you. Masks, temperature checks, and medical questionnaires may be required before you can enter. Upon coming into the office, we may ask you to use hand sanitizer or an oral disinfectant rinse.
Staying Safe at Your Boise, Idaho Dentist
We want our patients to know that their safety is our highest priority. Call us or schedule an appointment online!