With COVID-19, dental practices across the country were closed to everything but emergency services. Now that things are slowly opening up, dental offices can start offering regular services again. We want our patients to know that they’re safe in our office. Drs. Randall and Melissa Stewart of Stewart Dental Group, dentists in Charlotte, NC, explain infection control protocols at our 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 guidelines to ensure the best techniques and technologies are being used. A CDC document contains checklists and tools so dental workers can make sure they’re following proper protocols, even when COVID-19 isn’t looming.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
PPE is a necessity to keep both patients and staff safe. One of the most important PPE components we use is disposable gloves. Gloves are changed between patients and when surfaces such as the computer are touched. Depending on the dental services being performed, gloves may be changed multiple times with one patient. Proper handwashing techniques are followed before a pair of gloves is put on.
Patients get bibs and staff gets protective coverings to avoid bodily fluids contaminating skin or clothing. Masks are worn during dental services but will be worn at all times due to COVID-19. Eye protection is another important part of PPE for dental workers. Medical personnel have been recommended to wear full-face shields for COVID-19 protection, so you may see workers with these as well.
Disinfection and Sterilization Techniques
Due to the nature of some dental procedures, certain dental tools have to be reused. This means they require the highest level of sterilization to ensure patient safety and cleanliness. For high-risk tools, like those used for oral surgery and periodontal therapy, they’re sterilized with heat. Lower-risk tools that can withstand the temperatures are also sterilized using this method.
Other dental tools are completely disposable or contain crucial parts that are. Patients know they’re getting something new when they see it come out of sealed packaging during their appointment. For sterilizing surfaces, like the dental chair or blood pressure cuffs, they’re wiped down thoroughly with a disinfectant solution. This is also done in high-traffic areas like the reception desk and waiting room surfaces.
With COVID-19, there are stricter precautions. We’re lowering 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 come to get you. Masks, temperature checks, and medical questionnaires may be required before you’re allowed entry to the office. We may ask you to use a hand sanitizer or oral disinfectant rinse once you enter.
Stay Safe at Your Charlotte, North Carolina Dentist
We want our patients to know that their safety is our top priority. Call us or schedule an appointment online!