Sterilization

Infection Control:

Because many people visit the dentist's office, dentists and dental staff should apply stringent infection control measures to reduce the risk of contagion, contamination and the spread of infection. The following universal precautions are used to prevent the transmission of infection in a dental practice:

Physical Barriers:

  • Gloves serve as a barrier between the saliva, blood and mucosa of a patient and the dentist's hands. They are changed between patients and each time that a dentist leaves the room.

  • A mask protects the dentist against aerosols produced while working in the mouth. Aerosols are fine water droplets that are suspended in the air and may contain microbes. It also protects the patient against an infection that can be transmitted through the airways.

  • Glasses are used to protect the dentist's eyes from being scratched by a projectile or injured or contaminated by an infectious agent splashing in the eye.

  • A uniform prevents the contamination of a dentist's clothes and the spread of germs outside of the working environment.

 

Infection control procedures

  • Hand washing must be done with soap before and after wearing gloves, between each patient and/or after changing rooms.

  • Sterilization destroys all micro-organisms on instruments used in the mouth. Any questions regarding sterilization should be asked without reservation, because the dentist can show how he ensures that all instruments are properly sterilized (safety seal on disposable needles, colour-change indicators on instrument packages that change colour after the sterilization process, etc.)

  • Disinfection: Working surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected between each patient in order to destroy pathogenic micro-organisms.

  • The use of disposable material is necessary because certain instruments or materials cannot be sterilized, washed or re-used (e.g. gloves, needles, cotton rolls, etc.).

  • Good work methods minimize the risk of accidents or contamination, which is why the dental team uses sound biological safety measures.

 

The Ordre des dentistes du Québec notifies all members of desinfection and sterilization standards. These standards set out general hygiene measures, personal protection measures, instrument sterilization methods, disinfection measures for work surfaces and laboratories, sterilization and appropriate disposal of biomedical waste, vaccination of treating staff, and the procedures to follow in case of accidental contamination or exposure to biological materials.

The Ordre ascertains adherence to these safety measures by conducting professional inspections of dental offices. In fact, Québec is the only province that has an annual program of mandatory inspection of dental offices.