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5 Reasons Infection Control Is So Important In the Dental Office

Published: November 3, 2021
 

You go to the dentist to have your teeth cleaned, fixed, polished. You want pleasant service and competent treatment. What you definitely don’t want is an infection caused by something your dentist or their staff did wrong. Proper sterilization and infection control procedures are critical for patient and staff safety. Especially in light of COVID-19, we all know how important simple measures can be to help prevent the spread of disease and infection. Whether you work in a dental office, plan to, or just visit one regularly, you need to understand why infection control is critical and how to look out for it in whichever role you play.

Protect the Health of Patients and Staff

Bacteria are among the fastest growing organisms in the world and billions of them live in your mouth. That’s why when you treat a patient’s mouth, you need to pay particular attention. What might be harmless to one person can cause another to become ill. Direct contact with someone’s saliva can make you sick. And cross contamination, when something left from one patient transfers to another, can be dangerous to the patient. But you can protect your patients and yourself with regular precautions, such as:

  • Use single-use items
  • Wear gloves and protective equipment
  • Practice proper hand washing
  • Sterilize dental tools
  • Disinfect dental surfaces
  • Practice proper sneeze/cough etiquette

With frequent and proper sterilization methods, you can be a warrior in the battle against bacteria.

Prevent the Spread of Viruses and Diseases

It would be bad enough if you got an illness from your patient, even worse if you gave something to them. But imagine if a single illness spread across the town, the state, and even the whole country. In addition to COVID-19, improper sterilization and infection control can lead to the spread of other viruses and diseases such as hepatitis, influenza, measles, and strep throat. Preventative measures keep the whole community safe.

Preserve the Reputation of Your Dental Office

One small mistake or lapse in judgment can lead to serious illness or possibly death. If a patient were to fall ill, or if an outbreak of COVID-19 was tied to your practice, it could deter patients from coming. It could even damage the reputation of your practice. When you follow the proper policies, it shows that you have integrity and care about your patients.

Follow Dental Office Infection Control Regulations

Another reason infection control is so important is because it’s the law. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) always requires employers to provide employees with a safe work environment. In the midst of the pandemic, that has been especially difficult, but OSHA has additional recommendations. And the American Dental Association and the Centers for Disease Control have created a set of guidelines for infection control in dental offices. They urge all dental staff to follow these practices to prevent disease and mitigate health risks.

Promote Public Good and Knowledge

Dentists and their staff have an obligation to educate patients on proper oral hygiene. But you can’t expect them to take your advice if you don’t follow proper protocol yourself. When you show patients health and safety are important, you promote good health practices, not just in your dental office but in the community at large.

Infection Control Practices

What standards and practices can you implement in your office? Here are some simple guidelines:

  • Wear PPE—To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the CDC recommends that you wear an N95 respirator when working with patients, particularly during procedures that produce aerosols such as air polishing and air abrasion. A fresh pair of gloves for each patient can also prevent the spread of bacteria.
  • Support Physical Distancing—If your dental office has an open floor plan, place chairs at least six feet apart in the patient area and in the lobby. You should also be mindful of the orientation of the dental chair. Make sure the patient’s head is positioned away from air vents and busy hallways.
  • Wash Your Hands Frequently—All dental staff should wash their hands before and after each patient. You can also encourage your patients to use hand sanitizer when they enter the lobby.
  • Sterilize and Decontaminate—Properly sterilize all dental tools and equipment used before and after each patient. Decontaminate countertops, surfaces, chairs, and anything else patients may come into contact with. This will protect the health of dental staff and patients throughout the day.

 

Infection control plays a vital role in protecting the health of you and your patients. Want to learn more about the dental office? At Charter College, we offer a Certificate in Dental Assisting that will train you in chair-assisting procedures, including infection control, and more. Call us now at 888-200-9942 or fill out the form to learn more.