Everyone at the office is very friendly and helpful, and the technicians are great. I feel like Westerville Dental is very much on top of the latest screening and monitoring techniques, and I really appreciate the thoroughness of the appointments in terms of measuring gum health as well as tooth health. I chose this place when I moved down here based on the good reviews, and I haven't been disappointed.
So professional AND friendly. I know that I am getting the best care for my whole family. Plus, the waiting area is beautiful and comfortable--like a living room!--with a special area for young ones to read and draw on the chalk boards.
So glad I found this office when I moved back to Ohio. I’ve had so many bad experiences at the dentist, this place is understanding and open to my questions, they explain everything and it really seems like they care. They also have an open and inviting waiting room that is beautiful.
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How Do Dentists Keep Things Safe?
In the midst of the current pandemic, the first line of defense is washing your hands- thoroughly and often. You’ve been hearing this for months. And for good reason. Keeping germs away is easier than getting rid of them once you have them. So, this advice is good advice, whether you’re trying to avoid the common cold, the flu, or COVID-19. For a dental office, of course, avoidance means much more than simply washing hands or dental instruments. Dental offices must practice specific sterilization techniques to make certain that both patients and dental personnel are as safe as possible, every day.
Why is Sterilization so Important?
Sterilization is important because germs are microbes and microbes are everywhere. They are found in anything that contains water, including all living things, even us. Many microbes are beneficial, and necessary, for human life. But some are not, and to stay safe from the germs that cause disease, it’s important to make sure you don’t come into contact with them in the first place.
Sterilization is the best way to do that. It’s different from disinfecting, in that disinfecting only reduces life forms and biological agents. The sterilization process effectively destroys all microorganisms present on the object or surface being sterilized. That’s why sterilization of tools, appliances, and surfaces in a dental office is at the top of the list of important ways your dentist cares for patients and staff members.
How Are Dental Instruments Sterilized?
All of the instruments a dentist uses are thoroughly cleaned before being sterilized, and sterilized instruments are provided for each patient. Most dental offices use steam to sterilize dental tools and instruments by heating them past the boiling point in an autoclave. Steam is ideal for destroying microorganisms such as bacteria and spores, and can sterilize solids, liquids, hollow items, and instruments of various shapes and sizes. Dental offices usually use a tabletop autoclave, which is about the size of a household microwave, that can process several instruments at one time. Other means to achieve sterilization that are approved by the FDA for use in dentistry include dry heat and unsaturated chemical vapor.
Dry heat is used for instruments that might be damaged by steam. Dry heat is provided by either static-air method or forced-air method. These processes are precisely what they sound like. The tools to be sterilized are placed in a chamber and surrounded by very hot air that either rises from heating coils below them or is forced onto them by fans. Both methods are more time-consuming than an autoclave, with the forced-air method taking a lesser amount of time.
Tools and instruments that cannot withstand the heat of either of these methods must be sterilized by an unsaturated chemical method using a sterilant that is FDA-approved.
What About the Coronavirus/COVID-19?
The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak is tremendous and will be with us for months to come. Still, you will need to visit your dentist at some point, so you need to know how we have protected patients in the past and continue to protect you, your family, and our staff.
As with any transmittable condition, some risk is inherent in all scenarios. Our use of personal protective equipment when treating patients can significantly reduce your risk of exposure and the risk our staff members face, as well. Based on CDC guidelines, we assume that any patient could transmit the virus and thus we use our professional judgment to assess risk factors and make treatment decisions.
In addition, we are paying close attention to the guidelines provided by the American Dental Association. The ADA has directed dentists to remove all toys and reading materials from waiting rooms as these items could be handled by multiple people and are not easily disinfected. Signs have been placed in strategic locations in the office explaining etiquette recommendations for handling coughs and sneezes, as well as the specifics of social distancing. These may include limiting the number of people allowed into the office at any given time.
The ADA also encourages dentists to request that patients not bring companions to the dental office unless the patient requires assistance, such as a pediatric patient. In most cases, companions will not be allowed into the treatment environment beyond the lobby.
As for your dentist and staff, we are following ADA recommendations for safety, too. Your hygienist and the dentist will wear a protective mask that covers the mouth and nose, along with eye protection while in your presence. Our masks are one-time use only and we will always put on a new mask for each patient. As we always have, we will wear gloves during any dental work and change to a new pair for each patient.
The more information you have about our office and our safety precautions, the better equipped you will be to make decisions about your dental health and care. If you have specific questions, feel free to contact us. We will do our best to address any concerns you have. At Westerville Dental Associates we are, as always, committed to offering a full range of Family Dentistry services in the safest possible way, especially during the current COVID-19 crisis. And we can help with costs, as well, through our dental savings plan for patients without dental insurance.
On the advice of the ADA, we are spacing appointments more widely than normal to add an additional level of protection from cross-infection. If you are in need of dental services, please contact our office to schedule a visit. We appreciate your patience during this unprecedented time and encourage you to contact us if you have concerns or need additional accommodations.