Hepatitis or HIV from Your Dentist: For Heaven’s Sakes, Just Say NO

Tyler, Texas Dentist, Rick Coker

 steriliazationWith the recent news stories about the oral surgeon in Oklahoma who is accused of unsanitary practices, you may be wondering about your own dental office.

I want to assure you that we take infection control very seriously.

Every instrument or product we use on our patients is either disposable or sterilized.  Our instruments are sterilized in a steam autoclave located in our sterilization area.  Each set of instruments is packed into a special autoclave bag.  The bag changes color as it is run through the steam cycle so we always know which instruments have been properly cleaned.

Because we are a specialty cosmetic practice we do not see four or five patients per hour so we have time to thoroughly clean and disinfect our treatment rooms between each patient.

We use disposable bibs and other products to cut down on the possibility of cross contamination.  Every treatment provider puts on a clean pair of gloves each time they work on a patient – and they change them if they have to leave the room.

We require annual updates from our patients of their health history and we get a verbal update every single time a patient comes in for an appointment.  That way we make sure everyone on the team is aware of any special health concerns of our patients.

We follow the universal precautions recommended by the American Dental Association and even though we check a patient’s health status at each appointment, we then treat each patient as if they were “infectious,” i.e., we don’t use special instruments for different classes of patients.  Everything is clean and sterile.  Thus, we avoid cross infection from one patient to the next.

According to a report on CNN, “Cross infection, in general, is exceedingly rare because dentists follow strict state and federal guidelines. The risk of your health being affected by not seeing the dentist is far greater than the risk of cross infection.”