So how do you know if your dentists is properly cleaning instruments?

You may have seen the recent news story about a dentist in Nottingham who is under investigation for poor infection control practices. When I read this story it got me thinking how would you as a patient know if your dentist is following good infection control practices?  There are a couple of things that you could do to find out!

  • Firstly speak to your dentist, or anyone in the dental team for that matter – we don’t bite!  They will be able to tell you what the practice does to guard against the risk of cross infection (the transfer of infection from one patient to another), ask to see the infection control policy, most dental practices will take pride in their infection control measures, I know we do, and will be happy to explain how it all works.

  • Ask to see where the decontamination is done, all dental practice should have a means of sterilising reusable instruments, probably an autoclave, which kills all the nasties, and there should be a strict work flow from unsterile instruments to sterilised ones, so that the two cannot come into contact.  Once the instruments have been sterilised, they should be bagged to keep them sterile.

  • A practice should keep records for two years to show that each time the steriliser has been used it reached the correct temperature and pressure to kill the bugs.  Its also gets independently validated each year and serviced twice a year.  At the Natural Smile we also have a washer-disinfector which is a best practice recommendation in the fight against cross infection.

  • Your dentists, hygienist and nurse should be wearing facemasks, gloves, and clinical uniform.  Gloves and masks are disposable and should be changed between patients; hands should be washed between patients.  The surgery and chair should be wiped down before each patient using disinfectant, and disposable covers are placed on all difficult to clean areas in the surgery, like the light handle, the computer keyboard.

  • Check your dentist has passed its most recent inspection from the CQC, you can do that from the CQC website or as in our case here we have included a link to the report on our website.  This will tell you of any concerns spotted at the last inspection.

  • All of the clinical waste (anything that has touched a patient) has to be disposed of properly, through a licensed carrier of hazardous waste.

There are many more things that we do behind the scenes, to ensure your safety in this respect, but these are things that you look for yourself, to put your mind at ease.

Bob Seymour November 2014

Bob Is the practice manager at the Natural Smile Dental practice. you can also  pick up more tips on the Natural Smile’ facebook page.