Have you noticed...
dentist becoming less visible???
Masks, gloves, glasses! Are
dentists hiding from something? No, not at all... they're practicing
the preventive dentistry of the 90's for your health and safety.
The prevention of
For the past 20 years you have heard the dental profession talk about preventive
dentistry-brushing and flossing, the use of fluorides, and pit and fissure sealants.
Today, dentistry is using new ways to protect your health-through the prevention of
disease transmission. Cleanliness and proper sterilization techniques have been a part of
dental practices for many years, but the AIDS, hepatitis B, and herpes viruses have made
these techniques more important. The dental profession has made several visible changes in
the way dental services are provided, changes that ensure your health and safety in the
What changes are
1. Dentists, hygienists, and assistants are wearing surgical gloves, eye glasses,
and masks with each patient to prevent the possibility of microorganisms from being
transferred during dental procedures.
2 Dental instruments are heat
sterilized, or autoclaved, between each patient to protect against the possibility of
cross-contam i nation from one patient to another.
Heat sterilization kills any potentially harmful microorganisms.
3. Dental personnel are
vaccinated against the hepatitis B virus.
4. Special precautions
are taken in the handling and disposal of potentially hazardous waste and materials in the
5. All dental personnel
receive training in patient and environmental protection procedures.
Will these changes
increase my dental bills?
The new sterilization
procedures being used are costly, but important, considering the protection that is
provided. As a result, you may see a slight increase in your dental bill that reflects a
portion of this expense.
Are these changes recommended by
major health organizations?
The Centers for Disease
Control of the Public Health Service, the Academy of General Dentistry and the American
Dental Association, state boards of health, schools of dentistry, and many other health
agencies and professional associations are strongly supportive of these measures.
What can you do to help?
1. There are several
things you should do. At each dental visit, report any changes in your health status. Have
you been sick? Are you on a diet? Are you taking any medication or undergoing treatment
for any medical condition? This will help your dentist provide the best treatment based on
your health needs.
2. Ask questions. Ask about sterilization techniques and procedures used in the dental
office. If the dentist is not wearing a mask, ask why. Find out if gloves are changed
between each patient. How are instruments sterilized? They should be heat sterilized
between every patient. Don't hesitate to ask about the steps the dentist takes to ensure
Your dentist will be happy to answer your questions.
Return to Facts About Dentistry & Services
Send comments to:Dr. Jay Last Update
February 16, 2006