How do you know the instruments your dentist or hygienist are using have been properly sterilized? News 5 spoke with Dr. Fred Guerra in Colorado Springs who says his office, and all dental offices preventing the spread of communicable diseases is always a top concern.
"The CDC has issued guidelines that all dental offices are suppose to adhere to because we are concerned about patients giving our staff some kind of infection. Also the transmission of infection from one patient to another is a concern, or we are concerned about our staff having an issue and giving it to a patient. There are different modes of infection control in the office. In dentistry we use a tremendous amount of disposables, things like cotton, or plastic anything that can be disposed of is, and anything that is reusable is going to be sterilized.”
There are strict protocols for proper sterilization of dental tools, says Dr. Guerra.
"That process involves a disinfection period, a soaking period, a scrubbing period and then instruments are placed in a sterilizer. Then to test the effectiveness of the sterilizes, we do a spore test that’s required to be done weekly. We send out a sample to an outside agency to make sure the sterilizers and doing what they are suppose to do that they are just not running them through and assuming they are sterilized there is actual proof that the sterilization process is effective."
When you go to your dentist’s office, Dr. Guerra says, there are some signs you can look for that will indicate proper procedures are being followed in a dental office.
"When you come into the dental treatment room, you may see instruments that are bagged and opened in front of you. You also may see instruments that are already out and that just means your provider or their team is ahead of the game and they are ready for you with sterilized instruments ready to go. If you have concerns ask your dentist or hygienist what are their procedures for sterilizing instruments and they should be happy to show you how they do it and share that information with you. We always like to tell our patients, there are no stupid questions we welcome all questions and I'm sure your dentist would do the same because patients just feel more comfortable if things are just explained to them."
The same principles should apply to all your visits with your health professionals, if you have questions ask them.