Gum Disease FAQs
How do you sterilize equipment like the suction tool?Your health and safety are our top priorities at Scott A. Welch, DDS, and we follow sterilization and cross-contamination avoidance processes recommended by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). To ensure that saliva- and blood-borne pathogens — viruses and bacteria — don't spread from patient to patient, we follow strict sterilization procedures and use disposable tools and supplies whenever possible.
Tools like mouth mirrors, dental scalers, and forceps are sterilized according to ADA recommendations using an autoclave, which disinfects with high-pressure, saturated steam. We place equipment needing sterilization into a special sterilization pouch, which looks like paper on one side and has a clear window on the other. The pouch is then put into an autoclave for a set period of time for sterilization. These special bags have color indicators that change color when items within are sterilized, ensuring we never use unsterilized equipment on a patient. (Our autoclave also is monitored externally by UNC — we send test strips weekly for assessment to be sure the machine is working correctly.)
Some kinds of tools have single-use components to ensure their sterility. For example, the suction device that pulls saliva out of your mouth and the air/water syringe both have replaceable tips, which are disposed of after use for a single patient. Gloves, syringe needles, cotton rolls, and other items likewise are used for one patient, then disposed of in the safest possible manner, again according to ADA guidelines.
Are other things in the dental exam room sanitized, too?
We know that the cleanliness of our practice isn't limited to the equipment and supplies we use. Our exam rooms and common areas are kept organized and tidy and stay clean with regular professional cleaning. As dental professionals, we are all trained in safety and hygiene procedures, and we wear sterile protective gloves, surgical masks, and face shields to eliminate the likelihood that we could transmit illness from one patient to another.