One of the many fears associated with trips to the dentist are the tools and equipment used. Aside from the sharp-looking objects that probe your mouth, there’s also the issue of cleanliness. Cross infection in the dental office, or the transfer of an infection from one patient to another is a legitimate concern in any health care environment.
The unfortunate reality is that, as patients, you have very little ways of fully knowing what goes on in the clinic after a checkup or treatment—it’s all a huge trust relationship. Cross contamination is very possible, and because it’s invisible, only the professionals can guarantee that it won’t happen.
That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s out of your control. To help you out, here’s a quick checklist to find out how seriously your local dentist takes the issue of safety and cleanliness.
Watch them Cover Up
The dentist’s most effective tools are his hands, and gloves should be one of the basic disposable dental supplies they have. These hand covers used by your dental professional should come from the glove dispenser, not off an unsterilized countertop. They should only use it to touch the sterile instruments or your mouth. If they leave the room or touch anything else, it’s time for a new pair. Gloves should also be changed for every patient.
Check the Surroundings
A clean and clutter-free clinic is a good indication of how serious your dentist is about cleanliness and sterilization. The more clutter there is, the harder it is to clean. Aside from having clean floors and countertops, there should be special containers for the disposal of needles, gloves, and other disposable dental supplies.
Check the Instruments
The dentist should be unwrapping sealed bags of instruments that will be put into use. The sealed bag indicates that these tools have been sterilized—or in the field of dentistry, autoclaved—by a machine. If it’s not sealed, then those could have already been used on another person and carry germs that shouldn’t be anywhere near you.
Never be afraid to ask questions. A good dentist will proudly explain all the measures they take in ensuring your health, safety, and overall well-being.