A good first impression can be made or broken by appearances. Dentists and their patients know this, as a sparkling smile can make a great first impression.
But dentists also know there’s another first impression that they must manage: office cleanliness. When people visit a dental office, they expect a clean environment.
If somebody is in search of a new dentist, they will often want to visit the office before they go ahead and schedule an appointment. They very likely will take into account how clean the office and the equipment is before they decide whether it’s a good fit for them.
This is why any dentist who is accepting new patients must keep the dental office and the tools used clean and in great condition. We have compiled a checklist to help dentists make great first impressions - or simply impress current patients - with a pristinely clean office.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency have guidelines for dental practices and how they should clean both surface areas and equipment in the office.
Control bloodborne pathogen exposure
To control infections that can spread due to exposure from bloodborne pathogens, OSHA standards pertaining to dental offices require that any equipment and surface areas that come in contact with blood or other material that could carry infections be cleaned and decontaminated.
Dental practice employees must use an approved disinfectant after a procedure has been completed or after spills of any materials that could carry infection, such as blood or saliva.
Clean up chemical spills
Those same chemicals that can be used to clean up spills, including disinfectants, as well as anesthetic agents and alcohol must also be cleaned up if they are spilled. Dental practice employees must be trained in how to handle and clean these chemicals.
There are several areas and other parts of the office that must be cleaned regularly. The ADA has excellent lists of office areas to clean, and they include bullet points that you can use as a checklist to ensure you aren’t missing anything. There both daily and weekly lists for the reception area, waiting area, break rooms and bathrooms.
The ADA also provides recommendations for how to clean areas of the practice where dental work is done.
Disinfect tools and work space
It’s important to always disinfect not only the equipment used by office staff, but also the work space where that equipment is handled.
Dentists should do their best to thoroughly clean patient chairs, x-ray equipment, cabinet and counter space (including drawer handles and door knobs) and faucets and sinks.
Keep dust under control
Dental practices should have a plan for controlling dust and keeping it from building up. It’s best to establish and adhere to a dusting schedule, rather than wait until the dust is visible. At that point, your office is far dirtier than it should be.
The ADA recommends against using feather dusters, which can kick up rather than remove dust. Instead, use soft clothes that have been dampened, microfiber dusters or small vacuums.
Stay organized around the office
An organized office is easier to keep clean. It also looks much more professional to patients and can go a long way in making good impressions.
File paperwork properly and don’t leave it lying around. The same goes for any magazines or other reading materials that are provided to people in the waiting area.
Don’t let cleaning supplies run low
Have a protocol established in the office for making sure that all cleaning and sanitary supplies, which includes items for the restrooms, don’t run out.
Provide a supplies list where employees can write down items that need to be purchased and restocked. Then, pick a shopping schedule where everything that has been written down can be purchased and crossed off the list.
Every dental office needs to keep tabs on how it is disposing of garbage and hazardous waste. Both can be a source for germs and bacteria to fester if left undisposed. Establish a regular schedule for removing both trash and hazardous waste.
Adhering to that schedule is even more important when it comes to hazardous waste. There are many EPA and other local guidelines that each practice must follow to remain in compliance, especially for dental amalgam.
Don’t let an unclean office cause you to lose patients, or make patients who do decide to stick with your practice unhappy or unsatisfied with the conditions. Over time, even those patients who stick with your office will eventually leave.
Keep your office clean, though, and that won’t happen. Make cleanliness a priority and goal for the entire dental practice team. All staff members who are tasked with housekeeping are required to have OSHA bloodborne pathogen training and training for how to complete the safety and material data sheets that go with many of the tasks.
The amount of work everybody at a dental practice puts into keeping the facility clean and organized will influence visitors’ perceptions of both the practice and the professionals employed at the office.
One of the best ways to manage dental office cleanliness is to find partners you can rely on to handle some of the more complicated and regulated functions that come with operating a dental practice.
DRNA provides solutions to many clients in the dental community. Whether your practice needs assistance handling amalgam waste, x-ray chemistry, lead, bio-hazardous or pharmaceutical waste, our solutions are essential and affordable for every office.
At DRNA, we remove the burden of following regulatory requirements that the dental community must be aware of. We provide everything from the equipment and products needed to securely dispose of hazardous waste to education about best practices and new requirements.
Partner with DRNA to see why we are regarded as the leader in dental care waste management.