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Important Steps Dental Patients Can Take

El Centro, California (NAPSI) - Recent news reports about unsafe practices at a number of U.S. dental  offices have raised concerns about dental infection control procedures and  caused patients to question the safety of the dental offices they visit.

A  sterile environment is essential for a safe visit to the dentist and there  are important safeguards that patients can take to minimize the risk of  getting an infection during dental treatment, according to Noel  Brandon-Kelsch, a registered dental hygienist and the infection control columnist  for RDH magazine.

“Since recent news broke about dentists who don’t follow  proper dental safety procedures, a lot of patients have asked what things  they should watch for when they are at the dentist,” said  Brandon-Kelsch. “I encourage patients to start a conversation with  their dental professional about infection control procedures. Good hygienists  or dentists are happy to answer questions and put their patients at ease that  they are doing everything possible to minimize infection.”

Bacteria can be found in the most unexpected places, as a recent study  found. Researchers at the Forsyth Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts  discovered that a significant number of dental bib clips—the metal or  rubber clips that go around the patient’s neck to hold the dental  napkin in place—still harbor bacteria from the patient, dental  clinician and the environment even after  the clips had undergone standard disinfection procedures.

Kelsch recommends patients follow five tips to minimize their exposure to  infection at the dentist office.

• Request a disposable, one-time-use bib holder from your dental  professional.

• If a disposable bib holder isn’t available, ask the  clinician to fully sterilize the rubber or metal bib clips.

• Always make sure the clinician washes his or her hands and puts on  fresh gloves before beginning treatment in your mouth. If the clinician  touches anything else with his or her gloves—the bib clip, the  computer, his or her face—you have the right to ask for a change of  gloves.

• Make sure you see the dental professional open a fresh  sterilization pouch of instruments. If you don’t see it opened in front  of you, ask how the instruments you see were sterilized. All dental  instruments used on a patient should be sterile.

• Make sure you see that the dental professional is wearing gloves,  a lab coat over his or her uniform, glasses and a mask during all procedures,  including a cleaning. If you notice that something is missing, give him or  her a friendly reminder.

To read the full research study about dental bib clip bacteria, visit www.dentalbibclipbacteria.com.