Infection control is of utmost importance for the safety of our staff and our patients. We follow the standards set out by the Manitoba Dental Association and in many areas exceed their requirements. Even though the majority of what we do regarding infection control is often never going to be noticed by our patients, we believe it is important and must be done right every time and to the best of our abilities. And even though not all the protocols we follow are yet required by regulating authorities, our policy is: if we know feel it would better serve our patients, then we do better. Period.
In 2011 our office made a big change in sterilization protocols for your health and safety. The little drill bits, or dental burs, we use when drilling in your mouth are no longer sterilized and re-used from patient to patient. More and more studies are showing the only way to guarantee these burs are sterile and not harbouring any bacteria or viruses is to sterilize them when we get them from the manufacturer and only use them once. In addition to decreasing the risk of any kind of bacterial or viral transmission, this also improves the quality and comfort of the work we provide.
Fresh burs cut cleaner and faster, resulting in less cracking and chipping of the teeth. They also cause less heat generation, which means less trauma to your teeth. This results in less post-operative sensitivity and less risk of needing a root canal.
Please note that this change in bur use has not yet been recommended by the Manitoba Dental Association and we currently do not know of any other offices in Winnipeg that follow this protocol. Due to the added costs involved in providing this service, some of our related fees have been increased to cover the cost. For example, the fee for a standard filling increased by $8.74, but a patient would only pay the increase once if having multiple fillings done at the same time.
Another thing you may notice during your visits is all our instruments are bagged in kits. Once sterilized and stored in proper bags, the instruments can remain sterile for up to 6 months. As this technique requires an increased number of instruments, many offices do not bag the majority of their instruments, and just store them in drawers or on shelves. Without bagging, however, instruments only remain sterile for up to 6 hours.
State of the Art Sterilizers
All our sterilizers are state of the art and fully automated. This allows for better monitoring of the sterilization process and quick identification of any problems. In addition to sterilizer indicators with each load, we do daily, weekly, and monthly testing of our sterilizers to ensure they are working properly and that the instruments we use are safe, patient after patient. For added quality control, our weekly testing is done in house with biological samples, and our monthly testing with biological samples are evaluated by a third party (provides the highest level of testing accuracy).
Water Line Disinfection
One of the problems encountered with dental units has to do with the fine water lines the instruments use (drill, air/water syringe, etc). With the very small inner diameter of these water lines, bacteria can build inside them and eventually break free only to end up in a patient’s mouth. As this has become a significant issue in dentistry, multiple ways of dealing with this have been developed. When Dr. Schau set up the office he picked dental units from Sirona that have a self-sanitizing feature (to our knowledge, the only dental unit on the market with this feature). On a continual basis, a low level disinfectant (peroxide based and safe for the patient) is run through the lines to keep them bacteria free. On a monthly basis, all the lines get an added 24 hour flush with a full strength dose of disinfectant to ensure the lines stay bacteria free with no biofilm. Just another way My Family Dentist has your best interests at heart.
If you have any questions or concerns about any of our infection control procedures, please feel free to talk to any of our staff, or to Kym directly, as she is the individual in charge of overseeing our infection control measures.