Many patients have questions about the sanitation and sterilization practices used by their dentist, and during the COVID-19 crisis, those questions are even more common. First, rest assured that dentists complete infection control training in school and have always been required to follow recommendations from the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention and the American Dental Association. And, right now, they’re going above and beyond to lower your risk of exposure to harmful bacteria and viruses as much as possible! Keep reading below for specifics on how instruments are sterilized, surfaces are sanitized, and equipment is cleaned to keep you and your family safe at every visit.
Hospital-Grade Disinfectant and Protective Covers
The surfaces and equipment in treatment rooms that dental staff touch throughout procedures are protected with disposable plastic barriers and/or cleaned with hospital-grade disinfectant.
Examples include light handles, patient chairs, countertops, door handles, keyboards, and more. These surfaces are disinfected between each and every patient, regardless of whether they’re suspected of having an illness or not.
Dentists utilize disposable, single-use tools and supplies whenever possible. These include the suction tips that remove water from your mouth, polishing cups, plastic coverings and barriers, cotton rolls, patient napkins, gloves, syringe needles, anesthetic cartridges, and more. After each appointment, these items are then safely disposed of according to recommended guidelines.
Any items that aren’t single-use are cleaned and sterilized in several steps (examples include metal instruments, mouth mirrors, forceps, etc.) First, they go through a cycle in an ultrasonic cleaner filled with disinfecting solution. This machine acts almost like a “dishwasher” to remove any debris. Then the instruments are thoroughly rinsed and put into an autoclave that uses high heat, steam, and pressure to sterilize them. Each dental office is required to regularly test their autoclave to ensure that it’s working properly, so this process is guaranteed to kill all viruses and bacteria.
These infection control protocols are recommended by the CDC and are strictly adhered to by dentists. They’re very effective at preventing everything from the common cold to COVID-19 from spreading, so you can feel confident that taking care of your smile won’t put you at risk!
About the Author
Dr. Jane Reeves has been a dentist for more than 25 years and graduated from the University of Texas. Along with her colleagues at Deer Park Family Dentistry, she’s always made infection control a top priority and continues to do so during the COVID-19 pandemic. She’s dedicated to providing dentistry in a safe, clean environment so that every patient can get the care they need without worry. If you’re overdue for dental care and want to schedule an appointment, or if you have any questions, you can reach Dr. Reeves via her website.