Answers to Common Questions about Disease Transmission and Infection Control
We understand that sometimes people are concerned about the transmission of infectious diseases in medical and dental settings. In this office, you can be assured that your child’s total health and well-being are our primary concern. We’d like to answer some of the most common questions about blood-borne diseases such as AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) and Hepatitis B. Please take a few minutes to read this information on the special steps we take to protect your child.
How is AIDS transmitted? Is it likely to be transmitted in a health care setting?
No, it’s extremely unlikely. HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) is transmitted primarily through sexual contact, exposure to infected blood, IV drug use with shared needles, and during birth from mother to child.
For a health care professional to infect a patient with HIV or hepatitis, the infected professional’s blood must enter the patient’s bloodstream. Due to a careful adherence to infection control procedures, the possibility of this occurrence is negligible in pediatric dentistry.
In summary, today’s universal infection control precautions make it extremely unlikely for any infectious disease to be transmitted to a patient in the dental office.
What steps are taken in this dental office to protect against the transmission of infectious diseases?
We follow the infection control guidelines as outlined by the American Dental Association, the US Centers for Disease Control, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. These measures feature the use of “universal precautions,” which means that stringent infection control procedures are strictly followed with every patient to prevent the transmission of any disease.
In this office, we wear gloves and masks, sterilize all dental instruments, and thoroughly disinfect all treatment room surfaces and equipment. We also wear protective eyewear during dental treatment. We process all needles and contaminated waste materials according to state and federal regulations after each patient to avoid risk to both patients and office staff.
Are these infection control procedures effective?
Extremely effective. The Centers for Disease Control and the American Dental Association have concluded that when universal precautions, proper sterilization and disinfection procedures are followed, they are effective in preventing the transmission of infectious diseases.
Since AIDS was first discovered in 1981, there has been only one documented case of HIV transmission from dentist to patient. The Centers for Disease Control have been unable to establish how the virus was transmitted. However, we do know that the dentist did not follow proper infection control procedures in his office.
Can AIDS or other infectious diseases be transmitted through the dental hand-piece (drill)?
This is very improbable because of the use of universal precautions. According to the American Dental Association, research indicates that the dental drill is not a proven route for transmission of infectious diseases. Further, our office follows the infection control guidelines that provide specific steps for the effective sterilization and disinfection of all dental instruments, including dental hand-pieces.
How long can HIV survive on surfaces or in fluids outside the body?
Unlike cold and flu germs, HIV cannot remain alive for any significant time outside the body. The virus is easily killed using proper disinfection procedures. Even diluted household bleach quickly kills HIV. In this office, we use the most effective existing methods for maintaining a germ-free treatment area.
How do dentists keep informed of the most current guidelines and scientific information?
As members of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association, we receive the most up-to-date information on infection control on a regular basis. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, The American Dental Association, and all dental schools conduct courses to keep pediatric dentists informed about the best methods for protecting our child patients.
What if I have more questions?
Doctor McCorkle and our clinical staff are happy to talk with you and answer any questions you may have concerning the prevention of disease transmission in our office. If you are interested, we would be pleased to give you a tour of our infection control procedures.
You have trusted us with your child’s dental care needs.
We take this trust and our professional commitment seriously.
Please be assured that the most current infection control procedures are used in this office to protect your child’s health.