Taking Charge Of Your Dental Care
When we think about selecting a health professional to care for our families and ourselves, we look for things such as experience, education, and even convenience. Once we make our choice, we expect and take for granted that the health professional is providing quality care and is meeting government requirements for providing a standard of care.
Unfortunately, that is not always the case. This past week, an Oklahoma oral surgeon’s practice was closed down and the surgeon is being investigated for unsafe dental practices. Due to a sub-standard sterilization and utensil cleaning process, the dentist may have exposed his more than 7000 patients to aids and other infectious diseases. Government officials were called in after one of his patient’s was diagnosed with Aids and Hepatitis C, despite having no known risk factors for either of these infectious diseases. The patient’s exposure was allegedly traced back to the oral surgeon’s office.
The most disturbing part of this story is that it never should have happened and is completely preventable. Sterilization is a vital part of any medical or dental procedure. Sterilization units are highly advanced, and sterilization procedures and requirements are in place to ensure the safety of both the health professionals as well as patients.
However, as patient’s we think we are at the mercy of the healthcare professionals and their assistants and technicians to follow these procedures. The good news is we may be at their mercy, but we don’t have to just trust that those procedures are being followed. Remember, you are the patient, in essence, the customer and you have a right to both know and ask how your services are being provided.
So what can you do?
- Tour the office – when you choose a dentist or other healthcare professional ask for a tour of the office, and request to see the sterilization area. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make sure that the process is both understood and being followed. Plus, take a look at the office, and make sure it meets your standards for cleanliness. Sterilization is much more than cleaning the instruments; you want to make sure the office is clean, neat and well organized.
- View the sterilization unit – ask to see the unit where the instruments are cleaned. Inquire about how old the unit is, and if it meets the government standards and requirements for sterilization.
- Ask how they sterilize – don’t be shy; sterilization is a key part of your healthcare or dental procedure, so ask. Make sure that the team is able to easily walk you through the sterilization process. Ensure the team is well informed about how they do it, and make sure their procedure actually exceeds the requirements that their governing board requires.
- Discuss it with your dentist – when choosing a healthcare professional, sterilization procedures should be at the top of the list of questions and concerns you have. So, take the time to ask the dentist about both his sterilization unit and the process. Gauge how well-informed and how passionate he is about the process.
Again, in a perfect world, we would trust that issues procedures such as cleaning and sterilization were things that we, as patients, would not have to worry about, and for the most part we don’t. However, this news of the Oklahoma Oral Surgeon has proven, it is better to be safe than sorry.
At Asheville Dental Care, we take pride in both our state-of-the art sterilization unit and our process, and have invested heavily in ensuring that we have the best and safest unit on the market today. Every patient who joins our office, is given a tour of our office and shown both our sterilization unit and our process. For more information about dental sterilization please feel free to visit our website www.AshevilleDentalCare.com or come call our office, 828-274-3882, we would love to answer your questions or give you a tour.