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How clean dental facilities keep patients, employees healthy and safe

How clean dental facilities keep patients, employees healthy and safe

Adherence to proper cleaning and disinfecting practices is as critical in dental facilities as it is in any other type of healthcare facility.

Between patients and staff, dental offices see a high level of foot traffic, which requires close attention to be paid to all aspects of hygiene. This better protects the health of every person who steps foot inside the facility, whether for employment or for treatment.

Ensuring everyone’s health through proper cleaning best practices takes some knowledge of what those practices are, along with determination to follow those best practices and create a more healthy, safe environment within the facility.

Clean dental facilities keep everyone healthy

It’s not common for someone to visit a dentist’s office and become infected with a contagious illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control, though, there have been documented incidents of illnesses being transmitted between people, including from one patient to another.

Although there isn’t one common instigator for the spread of an illness in these situations, the CDC has noted that investigators identified a few preventable actions or inactions that may have contributed to the spread of an illness. That list included unsafe injection procedures, not heating or sterilizing dental handpieces between patients and not monitoring autoclaves.

The CDC has concluded that these reports show that there is a true need for training that covers how to prevent the spread of illness and disease within a dental practice.

The importance of basic housekeeping in dentist offices

Some of the recommendations the CDC has put out include basic housekeeping best practices that are not unlike how one would clean their own home to keep their family and guests healthy.

The CDC defines two categories for housekeeping in a dental facility. The first are clinical contact surfaces, which are surfaces that are frequently touched, including light switches and patient chair equipment. These surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected with a chemical germicide that has been registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a hospital disinfectant.

For surfaces that can come into contact with patient materials, some offices may opt instead to use protective coverings that can be discarded instead of going through a cleaning and disinfecting process.

The other surface category is referred to as housekeeping surfaces, which are those that a patient is not likely to contact. Examples of housekeeping surfaces include floors, walls, cupboards, sinks, etc.

Though patients likely will not often touch these surfaces, it’s still important to keep these surfaces clean. Most housekeeping surfaces need only be cleaned with detergent and water, though if contaminated with patient material, then a hospital disinfectant should be used.

Where to clean in dental offices

In many cases, where and how often to clean inside a dental facility comes down to size and how much time office visitors in a given space.

Areas that receive the most traffic should be cleaned even more thoroughly and more often than areas that people do not spend as much time in. A patient waiting room, for example, most certainly would need to be cleaned more often than an equipment storage closet.

Larger practices will obviously require more time spent cleaning as they simply have more square footage.

No matter the size of the facility, though, the following should always make their way onto the cleaning list:

  • Workspaces, especially areas patients come into contact with
  • Waiting and reception areas, including the reception desk area
  • Breakrooms
  • Restrooms

Proper organization improves overall safety

Good organization is widely recognized as a critical component to operating a productive dental practice. However, a well-organized facility can also help keep both employees and visitors safe while they are in the facility.

Following a proper restocking and refilling reschedule can make sure proper hygiene is able to be followed in the first place. While cleaning, be sure to take stock of available cleaning products – both for surfaces and for people.

Don’t forget to order and restock soaps, hand sanitizer, tissue paper, toilet paper and other commonly used items that can help keep the facility neat and tidy.

Other areas where organization is key include the waiting area where patients or employees may handle paperwork, mail, magazines and patient files. It’s important to keep the amount of clutter in the office low. While it may not be a direct health issue, too much clutter can lead to unsafe situations and will generally reflect poorly on a practice.

Be sure to discard waste

Dental facilities of all types should know a thing or two about best practices for waste management. It’s impossible to maintain a healthy, safe environment within the facility without following these best practices.

Have a daily takeout and cleaning routine for garbage containers. Letting these containers sit too long runs the risk of allowing potentially harmful germs and bacteria to grow.

But we are not just discussing everyday garbage here. Dental facilities must have plans and procedures in place for how to manage, discard and – if possible – recycle all types of waste, including dental amalgam waste, pharmaceutical waste, x-ray waste, sharps waste and hazardous waste.

Because dental practices typically handle different types of waste, it’s important to have a thorough understanding of these best practices to keep everyone in the office safe and promote a better work environment.

One of the easiest ways for dental facilities to be sure they follow regulations and compliance issues when it comes to the many different types of waste they must discard and handle is to partner with a dental waste removal and recycling services provider.

Contact DRNA for a complete regulatory solution

DRNA is proud to provide regulatory solutions to more than 73,000 dentists within the dental community. We are also the top cost-effective solution for dental facilities that must adhere to the EPA’s amalgam rule that is now in effect.

By partnering with DRNA, you can rest assured that your facility’s waste is handled and recycled in ways that meet all regulatory requirements applicable to your location. We also make remaining in compliance as simple as possible. In short, our services lets you focus more on serving patients and visitors.

Contact DRNA today to learn more about how we can help your practice.