Sterilization procedures, when followed strictly, prevent the spread of disease in the dental office and put patients at ease.
Patients are very informed these days, and they often notice the details in an office and ask excellent questions. One important area is cleanliness and sterilization. People hear stories in the media about people who become infected during a hospital visit, so they want to be sure that when they come to our oral and maxillofacial surgery office, we are following very precise and strict standards.
It is hard to imagine that at the beginning of the twentieth century, surgeons were operating on patients in street clothes and wearing butchers aprons to keep the blood from spattering on them. There was only a dim understand of sterilization at that time. In addition, it was just a generation or two ago that dentists did not wear gloves when they treated patients.
For many years now dentists have been using gloves, and standards have evolved over the years to prevent cross contamination. For all of our procedures, we maintain the proper barrier techniques, which means not only gloves, but also proper masks, eye protection, and gowning.
We have very strict sterilization protocols that we use in the office. First, we have a clean office. When patients first come to our office, they notice the cleanliness. Our autoclaves (sterilization machines) are tested weekly to be sure that they are sterilizing the instruments thoroughly. Also, we check the sterilizers daily, and annually there is a mechanical test on each of the autoclaves. All of our instruments are sterilized and packaged, so the patient can see that we open a sterile instrument package for each procedure. All of our irrigation equipment also utilizes sterile solutions.
We exceed the standards that are required of us regarding cleanliness and sterilization. We keep the same sterilization protocols as if we were an outpatient surgical center or if we were working in a hospital setting. In fact, I am confident that we exceed those standards.
In the end, keeping our patients happy and healthy is a team effort. We view office cleanliness and sterilization as an important group endeavor.
Dr. Leonard Spector