Due to COVID-19, many dental offices were closed for everything but emergency procedures. However, now things are slowly opening up and dental offices are able to start providing regular services again. We want to make sure our patients know that they’re safe in our office. Dr. Kim Westermann of Westermann Family Dentistry, a dentist in Louisville, KY, describes infection control practices in our office.
Following the CDC and ADA Guidelines
These two agencies have worked together since 1993 to develop and implement infection control and sterilization guidelines for the dental industry. They continue to work together on updating these guidelines, making sure that the most recent technologies and techniques are being used. This CDC document provides tools and checklists for dental workers to ensure they’re following the correct protocols, even when COVID-19 isn’t a worry.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
PPE is necessary to keep both patients and staff safe. One of the most important PPE components is disposable gloves. Gloves are changed between patients and when surfaces like 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 has protective coverings to avoid bodily fluids contaminating skin or clothing. Dental workers will also be wearing masks, even more strictly than normal, due to COVID-19. Eye protection is another crucial part of dental PPE. Medical personnel are recommended to wear full-face shields to prevent the spread of COVID-19, so you may see workers with shields present.
Disinfection and Sterilization Techniques
Due to the nature of dental work, sometimes dental tools have to be reused. This means that they have to meet the highest standards of sterilization to make sure these tools are safe and clean for patients. For high-risk tools, like those used for root canal procedures or periodontal therapy, heat sterilization is used. This technique is also used for lower-risk tools that can withstand the high temperatures.
Other dental tools are completely disposable or have crucial parts that are. Patients know that they’re getting something new when these are pulled out of the sealed package. For surface sterilization, like for dental chairs and other exam room surfaces, they’re thoroughly wiped down with a disinfectant solution. This is also done in high-traffic areas, like at the reception desk and on surfaces in the waiting room.
With COVID-19, precautions are being taken. We’re limiting 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 for someone to come and get you. Masks, temperature checks, and medical questionnaires may be required before you can come in. We may ask you to use a hand sanitizer and a disinfectant oral rinse upon entry.
Stay Safe at Your Louisville, Kentucky Dentist
We want our patients to know that their safety is our number one priority. Call us or schedule an appointment online.