Since beginning his practice in 1979, Dr. Sangrik has always exceeded the sterilization recommendations of the American Dental Association, US Center for Disease Control and the Ohio State Dental Board. Today, with the presence of AIDS, Hepatitis C and other serious organisms, the issue of infection control is of even greater importance.
When we moved into our new, present facility in 2002, a major design objective was to insure that our infection control system would always be state-of-the-art.
Before dental instruments are sterilized, they need to be cleaned to remove saliva, blood and any other debris. While this can be done by hand or in a small bath of vibrating liquid (called an ultrasonic), the most thorough approach is to use a Miele® thermal disinfecting unit. While this devise may look like a dishwasher from the exterior, it is far stronger. The instruments we use on patients are blasted for over 30 minutes with 180°F water and detergent at pressures five times your household dishwasher. The pressure is so great, the instruments need to be strapped onto cassettes to prevent them from being flung around the inside of the machine.
Once they are cleaned, the instruments are wrapped in surgical paper in the same manner used in hospital operating rooms. From there the instruments are steam sterilized to completely kill any (and all) bacteria. Because the wrapping protects the instruments until use, you can be assured that the instruments we bring into our treatment areas are truly sterile. To further insure there are no lapses in our infection control procedures, we employ an independent laboratory to weekly test the quality of our sterilization.
True, not everything used in dentistry can be subjected to the above treatment. For this reason, we use many items only once and then dispose of them rather than try to clean them. Larger equipment like dental lights and x-ray machines are covered in plastic that is always changed between patients. You can be assured that everything possible has been done to eliminate the transmission of bacteria between patients.
Unlike the large pipes supplying your kitchen sink, dental units contain small water lines about the size of a pencil lead. Because of their small diameter, recent research has shown that excessive amounts of bacteria grow inside these water lines. Although it is still unclear if this is a threat to anyone’s health, it is gross to know the bacterial level in dental units is often many times that of normal drinking water. To address this issue, some dental offices no longer connect their dental units to the building’s plumbing and instead use bottled water. Sadly, this has had limited success in controlling the problem.
To assure the water used in the care of our patients is as pure as possible we use a water purification system that filters and disinfects the water before it is used in your mouth.
We are very proud of our "behind the scene" efforts to insure you the best care possible. Please feel welcome to ask any questions you have regarding these important issues.
Larry J. Sangrik, D.D.S.