As dental offices start opening back up fully after COVID-19, patients want to know that they’ll be safe there. At Loyalsock Dental Associates, we follow a strict dental sterilization protocol to make sure both patients and staff have nothing to worry about. Dr. Joyce Kim, a dentist in Williamsport, PA, discusses the sterilization and infection control measures present at this dental practice.
Following the CDC and ADA Guidelines
Since 1993, these two agencies have been working together to provide updated and accurate sterilization and infection control guidelines for the dentistry industry. They’re constantly being updated and changed as new and better techniques are discovered and put into use. A 2016 document published by these agencies offers quality checklists and tools so dental practices can be sure they’re following all standards.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
PPE is utilized for the safety of both patients and our staff. Gloves are always worn during dental procedures. They’re changed between patients and before touching surfaces, which we limit as well. Proper handwashing techniques are always followed both before and after wearing gloves to ensure that they’re clean and ready for the next patient.
Clothing is worn by the dental employee to protect from any bodily fluids from the patient getting on the skin. The patient has a bib or other protection to also avoid getting bodily fluids on them and their clothing. With COVID-19, it’s been recommended that medical personnel wear full-face shields that are changed after each patient. This is to protect the eyes and other orifices on the face from bodily fluids.
Proper Instrument Sterilization and Disinfection
With dental work, some instruments have to be reused between patients. For the most at-risk instruments, that have a likely risk of contamination, these are sterilized with heat. This includes any instruments used for periodontal therapy or oral surgeries. Heat is the best form of sterilization, so it’s used for as many materials as possible.
When we can, lower-risk instruments are also sterilized with heat, as many of these tools are able to withstand and tolerate high temperatures. Other things, like polishing toothbrush heads, are disposable and a new one is obtained for each patient. Surfaces that aren’t touched by bodily fluids, like the dental chair and reception areas, are wiped down with disinfectant between patients.
Due to COVID-19, some extra disinfection and distancing practices may be used. Patients may be asked to sanitize their hands upon entering the office. A limited number of people may be allowed in the waiting room and chairs may be removed to ensure a safe distance between everyone. Temperature checks may be required to enter the office at all.
Your Dentist in Williamsport, Pennsylvania
The safety of both you and our dental staff is our top priority, not just during COVID-19, but at all times. Call us or schedule an appointment online!