A routine visit to the dentist for thousands of Oklahomans evolved into an unthinkable health scare. Health officials revealed an oral surgeon in the area operated his practice without adhering to proper sterilization methods, prompting former patients mandatory testing for hepatitis and HIV.
Public health hazards are the unfortunate consequence of illegal dental practices.
Serious disease is hardly associated with dental treatment. An overwhelming majority of dentists take the infection control very seriously, often taking extra measures to prevent the rare occurrence. The safety precautions within dental practices vary from one region to another, some areas such as D.C. are required to follow additional protocol designed to ensure dentists and dental specialists receive all necessary training to prevent the risk of infection.
In certain areas of the country dentists are required to take refresher courses covering infection control, a practice that occurs on a regular basis. Refresher courses allow dentists to remain current with federal guidelines. Infection control virtually becomes an instinct at a certain point for many dentists practicing in such regions. Cases like Oklahoma stress a certain need to make lifetime training courses a universal mandate, a sweeping safety measure that could prevent risk of deadly infection in future patients.
Experts stress controlling infection is not the sole responsibility of the dentist – certain discretion must be exercised on behalf of each patient. Patients should be highly observant of overall cleanliness from the moment they walk in the door. It’s critical to ensure all instruments are properly sealed within the room of treatment. Never feel apprehensive about assuring your own safety.
While cases like Oklahoma are entirely rare and unprecedented, it’s serves as reminder that risk of infection is entirely real. Awareness is key, always have safety in mind when requiring any dental procedure.