A: Dentists are absolutely committed to protecting their patients and staff against infection. They follow standards set by state and federal governments and by the American Dental Association. At least once a day, dentists will disinfect all the surfaces in their offices — countertops, door handles, etc. And the dental chair you sit in is disinfected after each patient and a fresh, sterile covering is places on the head rest.
The dentist will wash his or her hands with antimicrobial soap or an antiseptic and put on a new pair of gloves before treating each patient and after handling any non-sterile material like paper records. The dentist, hygienist and any other dental assistants who work in the treatment area should wear face masks that cover their mouths and noses. They also should don new, sterile hypoallergenic latex gloves with each new patient. The federal Centers for Disease Control consider hand hygiene the most important factor in preventing the spread of infection. Ask your dentist about these and any other precautions he or she takes in his or her practice.
Information provided by Norwalk Family Dentistry, 1101 Chatham Ave., 256-9000.