Although the issue of infection control in dental offices no longer receives much attention in the media, dentists continue to take educational courses to ensure their offices are safe for patient care.
"Yes, the controversy about HIV/AIDS has faded and I think that most people realize that their dental offices are very safe places to be," notes Dwight Weathers, D.D.S. "In fact now the dental office is one of the safest places to be."
"One of the big issues today is how to keep dental waterlines clean," says Dr. Weathers. "Waterlines are the tubes and pipes that bring and take water into and out of the dental operatories. We will discuss ways in which dentists can help maintain safe waterlines and discuss techniques that are effective in minimizing the number of harmful bacteria."
Other issues include latex allergies and the rise of tuberculosis (TB) cases. "We are seeing a rise in tuberculosis cases, mostly in conjunction with patients who have AIDS," he says. "I hope that by now, the public understands that HIV is an extremely fragile virus that is easy to kill with basic infection control procedures and that spread of tuberculosis also can be controlled with appropriate procedures. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new guidelines regarding TB and we'll discuss those in the seminar."
Dr. Weathers says that dentists have come a long way in terms of infection control procedures, but most importantly, now realize the value of explaining precautions they take with patients. Well-informed patients a less likely to experience dental anxiety.
"Dentists didn't really explain the value of infection control in the dental office," he says. "Now they welcome questions from patients. They make it a point to open a sealed package of instruments in front of patients. They put on a fresh mask and gloves in front of the patient. I think these steps have gone a long way in reassuring the public."
Dr. Weathers says that most patients don't realize their dentists continue to pursue educational courses such as the one he presents as a way to stay on top of infection control issues and keep the office safe for dental care. "Again, I think the dental office is one of the safest places you can be today."
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