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Dental Hygiene

Dental School

05/02/2011

Question:

How wise is it to get a cleaning from a dental school? I am afraid to go to the dentist because I am afraid that the tools that are used to clean my mouth are not properly disinfected? I decided to go to a university dental clinic, but I noticed that clinic was next to the infectious disease unit. I am so afraid of infectious disease and other problems due to unclean tools. I actually know of a hygienist that skips putting tools in the autoclave and just swipes the tools with alcohol when she is in a hurry.

Answer:

It is law that all instruments must be sterilized. If you go to a private dentist, I would ask them ahead of time to not open the package of instruments until you are sitting in the chair. There should be some sort of indication (sterilization tape that stripes turn brown once sterilized) on the outside of the package to verify sterilization has occurred.

I believe dental schools would be very safe to go to as they follow the same procedures and are more scrutinized. If you know of someone who is not following this LAW, I would report them to your State Dental Board. This can be done anonymously.

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Response by:

Michele P Carr, RDH,  MA Michele P Carr, RDH, MA
Associate Professor of Dental Hygiene
Associate Professor of HS Nursing Quality & Research
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University