Sterilization and Infection Control in Dentistry

Due to COVID-19, most dental practices have been closed to everything but emergency services. Now that offices are slowly opening up for more regular services, we want our patients to know that their safety is our top priority. Dr. Stacey Hall of Williamsburg Center for Dental Health, a dentist in Williamsburg, VA, details the infection control protocols the office has always followed, as well as new additions for COVID-19.williamsburg, virginia dentist

Following the CDC and ADA Guidelines

Together, these two agencies have been working together since 1993 to develop and update infection control and sterilization guidelines for the dental industry. They continue to improve and ensure that they’re going to use the latest technology. A CDC document has put together tools and checklists that dental workers can follow to make sure they’re following the proper protocols.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE is crucial to protect both staff and patients. The standard for dental work is disposable gloves. Gloves are changed between each patient and after touching surfaces like the computer. Depending on the dental services being offered, they may be changed multiple times with the same patient. Proper handwashing techniques are followed before a pair of gloves is put on.

Bibs are provided to patients and full disposable gowns are being worn by staff to ensure that no bodily fluids get on clothes or skin. Eye protection is always a part of dental PPE. However, face protection is even stricter due to COVID-19. Staff will be wearing masks, as well as a mask overlay. In addition, full-face shields are worn to make sure nothing passes between patients and staff.

Disinfection and Sterilization Techniques

Due to the nature of dental work, some tools have to be reused between patients. This requires them to meet the highest standard of sterilization. For high-risk tools, such as those used for oral surgery or periodontal therapy, heat sterilization is used. Heat sterilization is also used for lower-risk tools that can withstand high temperatures.

Other dental tools have components or are completely disposable. This way, patients know that they’re getting something new at the beginning of their procedure. For surface sterilization, like for blood pressure cuffs or dental chairs, they’re thoroughly wiped down with disinfectant. This technique is also used for high-traffic areas like the reception desk and surfaces in the waiting room.

With COVID-19, there are some stricter procedures. The amount of time spent and the number of people allowed in our waiting room will be limited. You’ll be required to pass a temperature check and answer COVID-19-specific questions before being admitted into the building. You’ll also be required to sanitize your hands upon entering. Air purifiers have been placed in each exam room and in the hallways.

Staying Safe at Your Williamsburg, Virginia Dentist

We’re ready to see the smiles of our patients back in our office! Call us or schedule an appointment online.