There has been a lot of recent concern about COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus. As a dentist and a Geelong local, I share your concerns. The prevention of transmission of infectious diseases is always at top of my mind because this is something that my team and I are aware of every day.
In this article, I will share with you the many ways my practice protects our patients, community and ourselves from the risk of contracting illnesses and diseases, including coronavirus.
We use the term “infection control” to describe the many steps we take to prevent the spread of bacterial, viral and other infections between patients, team members and the broader community.
In a nutshell, it includes everything we do in our practice to ward off the spread of germs so that people don’t get sick.
Infection Control Regulations
We comply with strict infection control regulations as set out by the following bodies:
– The Dental Board of Australia’s Policies and Guidelines
– The Australian Dental Association’s Guidelines For Infection Control (links to PDF)
– The National Health and Medical Research Council’s Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare (2019)
– Standards Australia’s AS/NZS 4815, a Standard which specifies the requirements and practices necessary for the effective and safe reprocessing, storage, handling and transportation of reusable medical devices (RMDs) in human health care
– Workplace Health and Safety regulations
“Effective infection prevention and control is central to providing high-quality health care for patients and a safe working environment for those that work in healthcare settings.”The Dental Board of Australia
Some Examples Of Infection Control Measures That We Carry Out For Your Safety
Some infection control procedures we follow are called “Standard Precautions.” These are the essential processes of infection control. They include:
- Implementation of good hand hygiene (including effective hand-washing) consistent with the national hand hygiene initiative from Hand Hygiene Australia (HHA)
- The use of personal protection equipment such as gloves, masks, eye protection and protective outerwear
- Safe handling and disposing of contaminated waste and sharps
- Effective cleaning of the treatment rooms before and after patient care, and of the practice generally
- Placement of environmental barriers, such as plastic coverings, on surfaces that are otherwise difficult to keep clean.
- The use of “no-touch” techniques during treatment
There are also infection control practices specific to dentistry. These include:
- Steam sterilisation (autoclaving) of instruments, and the accompanying testing, monitoring and maintenance of equipment to ensure the autoclave works properly at all times.
- Single-use items (for items which are difficult to decontaminate)
- Maintenance of clean waterlines, therefore protecting water quality
- Utilisation of handpieces with anti-retraction valves to reduce risk of transmission of pathogenic organisms
- Specific decontamination protocols related to specialised equipment and devices
- Specific decontamination procedures relating to dental impressions and devices that are worn in the mouth
- And much more.
- Every team member is thoroughly trained in infection control procedures. We follow our procedures precisely and consistently and review our practices regularly.
- We are up-to-date with all infection control protocols and regularly undertake continuing professional development courses that specifically focus on infection control.
- Each team member undertakes a strict regimen of personal immunisations
- We have a customised Practice Manual on Infection Control which outlines our Infection control protocols and procedures for our practice and patient care.
I have great confidence that we are doing everything possible to protect our patients and community from the impact of not only the current threat of novel coronavirus but of all potentially transmissible diseases, including flu and the common cold.
What About Specific Protections Against The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Thorough infection control measures, including respiratory hygiene (cough etiquette) and good hand hygiene, are essential to reducing the spread of COVID-19 infection. This is true for health settings, in workplaces, in public areas and in the home.
Our practice has all the necessary systems in place to ensure very high-quality infection control.
The Australian Dental Association has also recommended that we assist patients in self-identifying their status as being potentially infectious. Risk factors include:
- Clinical Symptoms – including fever or an acute respiratory infection, with or without fever
- Recent Overseas Travel – specifically to countries considered a high risk of transmission
- Close or casual contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or with someone who has recently been in countries designated as having a high or moderate risk by the Australian Department of Health
If you fit into one of these categories, and your dental appointment is not urgent, please consider delaying your treatment for at least 14 days.
If treatment is urgent, we ask you to contact us to let us know your risk status so we can provide you with the best possible care.
Where To Get More Information About Novel Coronavirus
Please be sure to vet your information sources carefully. There is a lot of misinformation and hype online, especially on social media.
We encourage all of our patients to keep abreast of the latest medical advice and official reports on the Australian Government website:
We are happy to answer questions you have about what we do to keep you and your loved ones safe at the dentist. Please feel free to contact us on (03) 5298 1020.