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Healthy Habits: How-Tos

Avoid a Dirty Dentist

Safeguard your health with these three simple steps.

If you’re looking for a new dentist, you’ll probably simply try to locate one in your area that takes your insurance. That’s a good start, but don’t stop there. Unfortunately, I work in the field, and some dentists have unsanitary practices. Follow these easy steps to make sure you’re treated properly and safely.
1. Ask around. Begin by asking for referrals from friends and family. If you’re new to an area, it’s OK to start your research online. Just don’t assume that because a dentist has a high-tech website, it automatically means the office is modern and up to date.
2. Do a little digging. Just because a dentist is board-certified doesn’t ensure that his license is current -- or that he’s completed the required continuing education courses. Your state board of dentistry, which you can easily find online, can confirm whether a practitioner’s license is current and in good standing.
3. Perform your own exam. Ask for a tour of the office -- any dentist should agree willingly to this -- and carefully observe the examination rooms. Everything the staff touches frequently (such as the chair arms, light handles and X-ray machines) should be covered with a plastic sleeve that is changed between every patient.

In addition, does everyone wear gloves? Do they change them between every patient and after answering the phone? Do you see the tools coming from a sterilized package? If not, it’s absolutely appropriate to ask how they sterilize materials and how often.

The bottom line: Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially in an office that deals with blood and saliva, which can carry diseases. Your health and safety are at stake.

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