Dental offices have long been required to practice stringent infection control. And with the recent development of the COVID-19 crisis, that’s become even more important. While you may feel concerned about being exposed to the virus if you need to see a dentist now, rest assured that a dental office is one of the cleanest places you could be! Keep reading below to find out how dentists sanitize their offices to keep you and your family safe – now and always.
How Do Dentists Clean and Sanitize Their Offices?
Sanitation practices are designed with one important goal in mind: to prevent the spread of infection. That includes everything from the common cold to more serious illnesses like COVID-19.
Sanitation guidelines come from the Center For Disease Control and are used for each and every patient, regardless of whether they’re suspected of having an infection or not. Here are just some of the specific protocols that are followed:
- Hand hygiene – Every member of the team thoroughly washes their hands with soap and water before and after each patient, after cleaning a treatment room, and every time they remove their gloves.
- Disinfected surfaces – Chairs, countertops, door handles, lights, keyboards, and more are all thoroughly cleaned with a high-strength antiseptic in between every patient.
- Respiratory or cough etiquette – Cough etiquette not only applies to the staff, but signs should be posted that instruct patients to cover their mouths when coughing, use and dispose of tissues, and wash their hands afterward.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) – Each team member wears PPE throughout the day, including gloves, masks, eyewear, and protective clothing.
- Safe injection practices – Needles and anesthetic cartridges are all single-use items and carefully disposed of in puncture-resistant “sharps” containers.
- Sterilization of instruments – Dental instruments are put through a multi-step cleaning and disinfection process. This includes an initial ultrasonic cleaning as well as a high-heat autoclave to make sure every instrument is not only thoroughly cleaned but also sterilized.
When Do You Need To See a Dentist During COVID-19?
As you’re probably aware, dental offices are closed for routine care at this time but still open for emergencies. If you or a loved one experiences any of the issues below, give your trusted dentist a call. They’ll be able to advise you over the phone and can set up an appointment as needed to address your situation.
- You have a knocked-out a tooth.
- You’re in pain that’s keeping you from eating, sleeping or working.
- You have swelling in your lip or cheek or a pimple-like bump on your gums. These are often signs of a deep cavity or infection that needs to be treated right away.
- You’ve chipped a tooth or broken any of your existing dental work.
Also, keep in mind that it’s always okay to call your dentist, even if you aren’t sure if you need to come in or not. They want to make sure you and your family are taken care of during this time and are always just a phone call away.
About the Author
Dr. Sheri McIntosh is an experienced family dentist who is dedicated to helping her patients stay safe during COVID-19. She and her team take sterilization and sanitation very seriously and always follow strict protocols to prevent the spread of infection. If you have any questions or want to know more about how she’s keeping her patients healthy right now, she can be reached via her website.