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Infection Control: Why It Matters

 
Microscopic view of blood

Signs to Look For

Whether you’re having a routine cleaning or more serious dental procedure, infection control is important. When infection control procedures are not followed in health care settings, there is a risk that that infection (including hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV) can be transmitted from patient to patient. Infection control procedures established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention effectively prevent transmission of infections in the dental office. As an informed patient, you should look for these signs of good infection control.

 
washing hands in the sink at dental office

Hand Washing

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.

 
Clean instruments at the dental office

Protective Equipment

Infection control precautions require 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 items, such as gloves, are discarded. Before seeing the next patient, the members of the treatment team cleanse their hands and put on new gloves.
 
pink gloves cleaning instruments

Dental Instruments

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, are NEVER reused.

 
Clean dental office

Surface Cleaning

Before any patient enters the examining room, all surfaces, such as the dental chair, dental light, instrument tray, drawer handles and countertops, are cleaned and decontaminated. Some offices may cover this equipment with protective covers, which are replaced after each patient. Have questions about the infection control procedures used in your dentist’s office? Ask your dentist.