Dentists sterilizing equipment to protect patients from viruses - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Dentists sterilizing equipment to protect patients from viruses

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About 7,000 dental patients in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area are being tested for viruses such as Hepatitis C and HIV after health officials found a dentist wasn't following proper sterilization policies.  

Several dentists in the CSRA who run large, public operations and smaller private practices showed us what happens behind the scenes to clean the instruments that clean our mouths.

"From a standpoint of dentistry, it's such an extremely safe environment. Dentists tend to be OCD and so we really take these things seriously," said College of Dental Medicine Professor Kevin Plummer.

Plummer says he's surprised the Oklahoma dentist used unsanitary instruments on patients.

"Having somebody that didn't follow the current recommendations from the American Dental Association for Centers for Disease Control is an extremely unusual situation for a dental office," said Plummer.

He says the hundreds of patients they see every week can expect them to keep everything very clean.

"Everything that's in the operatories is fresh, clean, brand new or it's been reprocessed correctly through sterilization," Plummer, said.   

At Ron Bryant's dental practice in North Augusta, they make a point of showing patients nothing goes into their mouths that isn't clean.

"They know we follow certain protocol here. They see us open the packages of sterile instruments each time," said Bryant.

They also follow lengthy sterilization procedures to sanitize dental tools that will be reused; so that what happened in Oklahoma won't happen at home.

"It's horrible; I wouldn't treat anybody that way. I wouldn't expect to be treat me that way, so we treat everybody like we'd want to be treated," Bryant, said.

If you have health concerns, when you visit a dentist ask to see the tool packaging before the dentist opens it and make sure it's intact.

All dental practices should have autoclaves, machines that sterilize equipment, and if you have concerns ask to see their autoclave.

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