The Covid 19 virus and the fact that it has a very rapid transmission rate makes it imperative that all health care providers take the utmost care in protecting themselves and their patients from infection. The virus spreads through saliva and since the practice of dentistry by its very nature is closely involved with oral secretions, it is also of utmost importance that dentists take precautions to a much higher normal.
Most dental offices have a pretty good handle on the basics of infection control. The standard precautions in all dental offices include Gloves, and masks; Hand sanitization; Water and dental unit cleanliness; Instrument disinfection and sterilization.
The ferocity of transmission of Covid-19 has made dental offices increase the intensity of precautions.
The prevention of infection in dental offices is controlled first through the prevention of transmission of infection from dentist to patient. Since both dentist and patient could be exposed to oral secretions, hand sanitization of both dentist and patient and any other assisting person is always performed before and after every patient contact.
The next control of infection is to prevent transmission of infection from patient to patient. In order to achieve this, all surfaces and instruments are cleaned and disinfected before and after all patient encounters. The dental chair and other non disposable parts of the dental unit are also cleaned and disinfected between patients. Cleaning solutions that have a kill time for viruses of less than 10 minutes are used. Dental offices and units are cleaned at the end of each day by ultraviolet light cleaning.
All dental instruments are first cleaned to remove debris. They are then routinely sterilized using pressured steam, dry heat, or chemical vapor. Instruments that make skin contact with patients, such as x-ray heads and blood pressure cuffs are also cleaned with an intermediate or low-level disinfectant.
Packages are opened in front of the patient, and only someone with clean gloves handles them prior to opening. After opening, sterile gloves are worn for handling instruments which are placed in clean non contaminated trays.
Lastly, transmission of infection through the water used in dentist offices is prevented by ensuring that the water source and water used is clean. The water used for rinsing the patient’s mouth is sterile and treated chemically with germicides or filters. Because bacteria from the patient’s mouth can contaminate the instrument that discharges the water, this device is flushed for 30 seconds after each patient and even where disposable tips and expectorators are used flushing is still performed.
Last but not least, all dentists and dental healthcare workers are tested and monitored to check for not only Covid Virus infection but all infections. Dentists and healthcare workers are vaccinated and immunized against such diseases for which vaccines are available. Patients are monitored for any signs of the virus before they are seen at the dental office. Those patients who do not need to be physically evaluated are provided telephonic consultations and advice. For those who are seen in-office, appointments are staggered to maintain distancing between patients.
Your dentist is doing everything to keep you safe.