Protect Your Staff, Patients, and Equipment Investment with Infection Control Best Practices
You’ve invested a lot in your equipment – how you take care of it will determine how long it lasts.
But keeping your equipment clean and well-maintained is not just a financial concern – your cleaning and sterilization processes also protect your patients, your staff, and you! Not to mention your most important asset – the reputation of your dental practice.
You should be following the Centers for Disease Control guidelines, as these are considered the best practices and standards for the dental office. Find out more here: https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/infectioncontrol/guidelines/index.htm
Remember that your instruments and equipment are in close and often invasive contact with patients, and any unwanted microbes or bacteria can mean a quick spread of infection. Here are some of the key practices you and your staff should all be following to avoid disaster for yourself, your staff, or your patients:
- Instrument Pre-Soak: When it gets busy, the instruments may not get cleaned immediately. Bacteria-ridden debris can get caked on to the instruments, so be sure you soak any dirty instruments before cleaning. There are many spray gels that work well to break down debris.
- Clean First, Autoclave Second: If your instruments are dirty (and you may not be able to see that they are dirty!), the dirt will keep the steam from fully sterilizing the instruments. Use ultrasonic cleaning or instrument washers to ensure only clean instruments are going into the autoclave.
- Dry, Dry Again: The complexity of bacteria and its ability to travel is fascinating – but read about it, don’t experience it! Instruments that aren’t dry when they go into your sterile packaging makes your packaging wet. Wet packaging can actually pick up bacteria when touched, and now your instruments, nice and clean from the autoclave, are not so clean any more.
- Packaging: Instruments must be packaged before sterilization, and the packaging must prevent exposure to air after removal. Monitor this process, as recommended by the CDC, and ensure the proper temperature is reached for the proper amount of time.
- Don’t Overload: It takes longer for an overloaded autoclave to hit the ideal temperature, and placing instruments on top of each other or too close also means they may not be fully exposed to the sterilizing agent – a key factor in the spread of unwanted bacteria.
- Personal Protection: impermeable smocks and gloves, safety glasses and face masks protect you and your staff when working with patients, and are also important to wear when cleaning instruments. Remember that personal protection wear stops you from passing any bacteria not only from the patient to you – but from you to the patient via your skin or the instruments you may touch when not covered.
At DES Dental, we make sure our customers and their staff are fully trained on how to safely use all equipment we sell, to the optimum advantage. A little knowledge about infection control guidelines can save you, your staff, and your patients a lot of heartache. Have questions? Contact us-we’re here to help!