Proper instrument sterilization is critical for patient protection. Sound sterilization practices in dentistry protects patients, dentists and the whole dental team. These are a part of basic care and handling of patients that we must incorporate to be able to give you quality oral health care. Our mouths are teeming with microbes, and any dental office that sees a large number of patients a day has an inherent potential for spreading infectious germs between patients and dental staff, through contaminated instruments and surfaces. These can be greatly minimized by following proper infection control procedures.
Preventing the Growth of Bacteria
Instrument sterilization and management prevents the growth of bacteria on instruments and surfaces throughout the dental practice. This ensures that the germs in your mouth don’t make it into anyone else’s and that no one who’s been in the chair before you has passed along anything to you.
Microorganisms in blood and saliva can carry bacteria and diseases like hepatitis, herpes, tuberculosis, staph and strep. When proper sterilization procedures aren’t used they can pass from patient to another. Improper sterilization practices can make you really sick, and they can also create serious complications if you have any preexisting conditions. Good sterilization practices could actually save your life.
Precautions in the Practice
Because sterilization of the dental instruments is so important that is why dentists and dental assistants take so many precautions. When you visit our office the next time you will notice how clean everything is. Here are some questions you may ask:
- Does the dental assistant unwrap sterilized instruments to give to the dentist?
- Do they prepare all patient surface areas so the only germ on them will be yours?
- Do they make certain that everything used during an examination is disposed of properly in biohazard bins?
- Does everyone wash their hands before and between seeing patients?
The Centers for Disease Control has laid down infection control guidelines that a dental office should adhere to. Good dental infection control starts with the dentist’s room itself. A well-ventilated room with air-circulating devices prevent building up of aerosols produced from the dental drills. The sterile dentist and assistant are immunized against hepatitis, wear clean personal protective equipment-a scrub apron, eyewear, disposable gloves and facemasks. The patient is draped, and may be given a protective face shield to prevent skin contamination from the dental drills water spray. An antimicrobial mouth rinse just before a dental procedure is important to reduce contamination. The dental chair knobs and handles need to be chemically disinfected between patients.
These are just a few of the practices we have in place to prevent the spread of germs in our office. You can rest assured that we take cleanliness, sterilization and management of our instruments very seriously. It is a top priority to us.
First Step in Instrument Sterilization
The first step in instrument sterilization involves removing any blood or debris from the instruments. An instrument with debris or blood on it can be run through the sterilizer and will not come out truly sterile. For this reason, instruments in many dental offices are commonly scrubbed by hand or run through an ultrasonic cleaning machine before sterilization. Both methods, while effective, are susceptible to failure due to human error.
Dr. Scharf uses the Miele Dental Disinfector to completely automate the process of instrument disinfection and eliminate human error in the sterilization chain. Instruments are placed in cassettes after use to protect staff members from accidental cuts, and then the cassettes are run through the dental disinfector. At the end of the cycle, the instruments are completely free of debris and nearly sterile. They are then placed in the autoclave for the final sterilization.
This disinfector was specifically to designed to combine all the separate steps so dentist and staff can spend more time caring for patients. We care very much about our patients and it’s important to invest in products that will not only help with the sterilization of our instruments but will also help with providing the best care to those that trust us with their dental needs.
Commitment to Care
You will know you are in the right place when you walk in to our Long Island periodontist office. We pride ourselves in taking the utmost care of ours and your dental home. It is important to us to constantly maintain sterilisation, which is crucial to the success of a dental office. This reflects the commitment Dr. Scharf has for the care of his patients as well.
All of the measures we take for infection control not only reduce the chances of getting a dental infection, they also reduce the risk of catching a serious disease. Choosing a sterile dentist is so important for you and your family to stay healthy. We are committed to our patient care and it shows in our office and in the instruments we use every day.