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Sterilization and Infection Control

The dental profession has always taken precautions to prevent cross-infection. Indeed with new knowledge and better technology, the procedures to prevent infection have become even more stringent.

 

So now, more than ever, the possibility of getting infected while undergoing dental treatment is practically NIL.

WHAT IS CROSS-INFECTION?

sterilize1It is the transmission of diseases from one patient to another, or from the patient to the dentist, or vice-versa.

This is prevented by the routine practice of Universal Infection Control, so described because it is practiced for ALL patients who walk into the dental clinic.

Universal Infection Control routines involve a range of procedures such as:-

 

sterilize2All equipment that have been used are thoroughly washed and then sterilized. Sterilization involves the use of heat, chemicals or radiation to destroy ALL germs.

The most common sterilizer used is the autoclave.

All instruments such as

  • tweezers, mouth mirrors and numerous other hand instruments
  • burs (the small drill bits that do the cutting of the tooth)
  • metals cups
  • trays on which the instruments are placed
  • the modern dental handpiece (drill)

and all other instruments placed in the mouth would have been sterilized before your treatment.

In dental clinics, there are many items that are used only once and then thrown away. These include:

  • injection needles saliva ejectors (suction tips)
  • scalpel blades napkins, towels, cups

sterilize3Your dentist routinely wears gloves, masks, goggles or face shields during treatment. These serve as protective barriers against the transmission of diseases. Gloves are disposed of after each patient.

 

After every treatment, while the dentist is washing his / her hands with antiseptic soap, the nurse would ensure that the dental chair and table surfaces which are contaminated are wiped with disinfectants.

To further protect you from accidental contamination, used articles such as needles, gloves and gauze are considered as biohazardous and are collected in separate bins and disinfected or disposed of, separately from normal refuse.


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