With all we know about bacteria, viruses, and how disease is spread; we sometimes forget that dentistry was ever done in any other way. In the past dentists didn’t even wear gloves! Nowadays, these dentists of the past are referred to as “wet-fingered” dentists. Thankfully, that is just one of the many things that have changed about dental sterilization.
Keeping our operatories disinfected involves several different steps as there are different surfaces that need to be cleaned.
Disinfecting Counters and Surfaces
Counters and surfaces are easier to disinfect, as any bacteria that lands on them is not through direct contact. Preventatively, we place barriers on surfaces that our dental technicians come in contact with – such as the handles on the light, the suction, and the air/water syringe. In our office these barriers are either plastic bags or blue plastic stickies. These keep the bacteria from reaching these surfaces.
In addition to the barriers, we use Cavicide spray and Cavicide wipes to disinfect these surfaces after every patient. Cavicide is a medical grade disinfectant which is effective against Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, hydrophilic and lipophilic viruses, bacteria (including MRSA and VRE) and fungi. Cavicide can be used on a variety of surfaces – from the countertops to the dental chairs.
Dental instruments are put through a rigorous sterilization process at our office. First, they are cleaned mechanically in a dishwasher to remove any surface contamination. Then our instruments are run through an autoclave to finish off the sterilization process. The autoclave uses pressure and temperature to sterilize the instruments. Our autoclave is tested weekly via a third party testing company to ensure that it is sterile.
The instruments are sterilized inside pouches, which serve two purposes. The pouches have an indicator on them to ensure that the correct temperature and pressure was reached to achieve sterilization. Additionally, the pouches keep contaminates out until the package is opened at the time of your appointment.
The final step protects you as well as protecting our staff. This is personal protective equipment. We use masks and gloves to prevent any transfer of bacteria between you and our staff. Additionally, we offer eye protection to all of our patients to protect your eyes from the light and from any splatter that may occur during your cleaning. The protective barriers we use are one time use, and often multiple gloves and masks are used during your appointment to avoid transferring bacteria between surfaces.
Your health and safety is our highest priority. We take the utmost care to ensure that you receive the best that our Evanston dentist office has to offer. If you ever find yourself waiting in our lobby area, it is because we are making sure the operatory is perfectly cleaned and sanitized for you. If you ever have any questions about our sterilization processes, feel free to ask your technician.