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In the wake of several highly publicized cases of poor sterilization practices, some dentist's offices are implementing improved sterilization procedures. Health officials believe those who follow these protocols will prevent the spreading of several diseases, according to The St. Louis American.
This follows a recent epidemic at a Veteran's Association clinic in Virginia in which employees reused equipment specifically for one-time use only. An investigation of the center revealed that more than 1,800 veterans who received dental treatments at at the clinic had contracted hepatitis B, C or HIV.
Oral care experts recommend disinfecting chairs, counters and lights in between dental appointments as well as throwing away anything that is disposable and may have been exposed to bacteria. Also, better sterilization of uniforms and the one-time use of gloves and masks are recommended, the news source reports.
"The bottom line with infection control is constant surveillance and retraining because people tend to become lax over periods of time," said Ollie Fisher, a St. Louis dentist. He added that "you have to continually reinforce these standards."
Veterans who hear stories like these may be less likely to visit a dentist. In fact, from 2001 to 2004, approximately 27 percent of Americans aged 20 to 64 years had untreated dental problems, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
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