In 2014, a screening and recall of 22,000 dental patients of one particular clinic - one of the biggest in the country's medical history, had been conducted by The National Health Services (NHS) in UK on breaching of infection control standards by the dentist. They did clinical risk assessment and made a conclusion that patients may have been put on a risk of blood-borne infections. A rare survey indeed!
With dental clinics mushrooming in over the last decade, the situation is even more alarming in India. Dr. Dibyendu Mazumdar, President - Dental Council of India has stated the fact in simple words, "A dental clinic has to be more careful about infection control than even the operation theatres at hospitals. This is because most patients come as walk-in patients (completely unaware of their present health status), for invasive dental procedures. If proper safety measures are not implemented, the risk of infection is alarming.
What Can Prevent You From The Horror?
Choose a hygienic dental clinic! The most decisive step in infection control is the sterilization process through which the dental instruments undergo before you are being treated. Dental instruments are in direct contact with your body, and they’ve been used for other patients as well! Yes, most of the dental instruments are not exclusive for you, making them the most potent infection carriers. So, what steps a dental clinic can take to protect you and others?
Everything That Looks Clean And Shiny Is Not Infection-Free!
The Centre for Disease and Control (CDC) has given certain guidelines for sterilization. First and foremost comes the operatory area. You may not have thought over the significance of ample space of the operatory area at a dental clinic. Proper ventilation is crucial to avoid building up of aerosols from drills and scalers which cause air-borne infections.
Sterilization of instruments doesn’t complete the process itself. Proper storage and transport of instruments to the operatory area are of equal significance. Packing of instruments in sterile disposable pouches until use and using disposable armamentariums when needed, are some of the few steps that can minimize spread of infections.
What may stop a dental clinic from practising complete sterilization protocols? The answer is simple: Patients don't ask for it! The answer may appal you but it's a well experienced fact in some parts of Indian dental practice. How many times did you go to a dentist and wonder he had cost you a fortune? People are not ready to pay enough assuming dental diseases are not life threatening! Dental clinics may tend to cut cost by spending less on adequate equipment for sterilization or by employing unskilled people for sterilization and waste disposal. Changing mind-sets of patients regarding significance of sterilization is as essential as the practise of infection control protocols by dental clinics!
Dr. Akanksha Abhishek
Chief Dental Consultant - TheToothDoctors