We can tell by your questions that many people have concerns about transmittable disease and picking up an infection at their dental visit.
There is no greater priority at our office than infection control for protection of our patients and ourselves from contagious diseases. We are committed to Universal Precautions, which are safety guidelines established by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention along with the American Dental Association to prevent transmission of infectious disease, including the AIDS virus.
Many of our decontamination, sterilization and disposal procedures take place outside of your view. Before you enter the treatment room, all surfaces including drawer handles and countertops, the dental chair and dental light are cleaned and disinfected. We use protective barrier covers on some things, which are discarded after each patient, most of you notice the aluminum foil on the light handles, the foil is a protective barrier that is changed before each patient! Blood or saliva contaminated items such as disposable saliva ejectors [suction tips] and sharps [needles] are placed in special containers. We take strict precautions in handling and disposing of our hazardous waste materials.
Whenever possible, we use disposable materials and instruments that are used only once. For non-disposable instruments and the dental handpiece [drill], these are sterilized at very high temperatures in a special sterilizing area after every use. If you would like to see how this is done, ask our staff to show you.
Our staff is required to wear protective clothing and gloves when performing dental procedures and sometimes masks and eyewear. The gloves are discarded after each patient, and our hands are washed before putting on a new pair of gloves. These barriers are used to prevent cross-contamination of airborne infections between patients and/or staff.
Fear of infection or disease should not keep you from your dental appointment. We have made infection control a priority in both philosophy and in the action steps we have undertaken.