Infection Control

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Dr. Thomas Clifton is dedicated to providing quality dental care to all ages in the Durham, NC area. To meet the individual needs of the diverse array of patients, Dr. Thomas Clifton offers a full range of dental services. These services include early dental care and children’s dentistry, TMJ/TMD treatment, as well as general, cosmetic, periodontic, endodontic and preventative dentistry. With a highly skilled staff, Dr. Clifton can meet all your dental needs in one office. To assure you of the safety of all techniques and treatments utilized by Dr. Clifton, below we have provided information about infection control in our Durham dentistry office.

What is infection control?

Infection control is a set of recommended safety precautions that dentists implement to protect their patients and staff in the office. Strict infection control is mandated to prevent the spread of disease, since many dental procedures involve direct contact with blood and saliva.

How does my dentist protect me?

To fight the spread of disease, such as HIV, hepatitis B, syphilis and herpes viruses, our Durham, NC dentist Dr. Thomas Clifton has strict procedures and may use a variety of measures to ensure that instruments used during dental procedures are sterile. The instruments and supplies Dr. Clifton uses in your mouth are either heat-sterilized, a process that destroys all forms of microbial life, or they are disposable items intended for one-time use. As an extra precaution, Dr. Clifton and his staff are vaccinated for hepatitis B, to prevent them from potentially passing it on to patients.

When you first sit in the dental chair you will see Dr. Clifton and staff washing their hands. Hands are washed at the start of the day, before putting on and after taking off gloves and after touching any potentially contaminated surface.

Dr. Clifton uses a variety of protective items that are used once and then thrown away, including gloves, masks, paper drapes, suction/water tube tips and needles. This office will use different kinds of protective gloves. Latex or vinyl gloves are used for patient examinations and procedures and are worn whenever skin could be in contact with bodily fluids. Between patients, the gloves are thrown away, hands washed and a new pair of gloves is used to treat the next patient.

For cleaning and sterilizing instruments, heavy rubber utility gloves are used. If you are allergic to rubber or latex, Dr. Clifton can wear nitrile gloves, which do not contain any latex rubber proteins.

What are universal precautions?

Universal precautions, used for every patient, are safety procedures established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Dental Association (ADA). These precautions require all dental staff involved in patient care to use appropriate protective wear, such as gloves, masks and eyewear.

Does Dr. Clifton sterilize the handpiece (drill) and other instruments after each patient?

This office sterilizes handpieces and other instruments between patients to prevent the transmission of diseases. We follow and monitor specific heat-sterilization procedures, which are outlined by the CDC and the ADA. Most dental instruments are sterilized in special machines; it takes much more than just soap and water to make sure instruments are free of bacteria. Recommended sterilization methods include placing these tools into an autoclave (steam under pressure), a dry-heat oven or chemical vapor. Typically, this equipment is kept in the office, away from a patient’s view.

Please feel free to ask Dr. Clifton or staff to show you how and where instruments are sterilized.

How are exam rooms sterilized?

Before you enter the exam room, all surfaces, such as the dental chair, drawer handles and countertops are disinfected. To sterilize equipment that can’t be moved, such as X-ray units and countertops, disinfectant is applied after each patient to ensure a germ-free area. Some equipment may be draped or taped with protective covers, which are replaced after each patient. Disposable sharp items, such as needles, that cannot be sterilized are disposed of in puncture-resistant biohazard containers. Anything contaminated with blood or saliva is disposed of in special containers with safety lids.

Schedule an Appointment With Dr. Clifton Today!

Thank you for choosing the office of Dr. Clifton for your dental needs. If you have any further questions about how we are keeping you safe from germs and infectious disease, or would like to schedule an appointment, feel free to contact us today and one of our friendly staff will be happy to assist you. Our office is located in Durham, NC, but we service patients from the surrounding areas of Roxboro, Hillsborough and more. We look forward to seeing you in our office soon!