It should be clear that when you go to see your dentist, you are not only supposed to lie down in the chair and wait for the check up or procedure from your dentist, but to know many "Asks" for both yourself and your dentist. This can make you learn how safe and how professional dental care you have received.
Asks for yourself:
-- How does my dentist put on gloves? Gloves put on by your dentist should come out of the glove dispenser, not off an unsterilized countertop.
-- What does my dentist touch with the gloves? Your dentist should only touch the sterile instruments or your mouth -- if anything else gets touched or if the dentist leaves the room, it's time for a new pair of gloves.
-- How clean is the office? Is it tidy and uncluttered? If there's lots of junk on the countertops, that can make for surfaces that aren't easily sterilized.
-- Are there any carpets? Carpets can't be sterilized, but hospital-grade linoleum floors can. These can all be indications of how serious a dentist is about cleanliness.
-- Are there special containers for disposal of needles and sharp items? If you can't see them, ask where they're kept. Devices have to either be sterilized or thrown away. A dentist should be using these containers to dispose of used dental supplies
and using new ones on the next patient.
-- Where did the instrument come from? Once instruments are out of the sterilized bag, your dentist should leave them on a sterile tray, not a dirty countertop.
Asks for your dentist:
-- Do you change your gloves for every patient? Gloves should absolutely be changed in between patients.
-- Are operatory rooms (the room where the dental chair is) cleaned between patients? The staff should be disinfecting the surfaces in the operatory between every patient.
-- Where do you disinfect instruments? There should be a single room or space in the dental office that is completely dedicated to the disinfection of instruments. Ask your dentist to tell you about this space and what the procedures are.
-- How do you sterilize your instruments? Instruments should be sterilized in between each patient, including the dental pin
-- How do you know that the sterilizer is working properly? This brings me to my next point.
-- May I see a copy of your autoclave validation? If your dentist is willing and able to show you this report, this demonstrates a commitment and dedication to protecting your health. If your dentist doesn't want to show you or gets defensive, this could be a red flag.
-- Do you use the bags that change color when they're autoclaved? Many autoclave bags have a color indicator on them to indicate that the instruments inside were properly sterilized. Not all bags have this, but it can start a good conversation with your dentist about sterilization procedures used in the office.
And do your research. The more you know about this topic, the better able you will be to engage in a conversation with your dentist. Do a background check. Usually, there's a governing body that oversees dentists in your state. They keep a record of infractions -- call to find out if your dentist is on that list. Educate yourself about dental infection control standards.
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