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Dentist visits how do you know if they are safe?

Is my dentist following the required safety provisions?


Early last week it was reported that many as 7,000 patients were at risk of serious, life-threatening infections after visiting dentist W. Scott Harrington in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His alleged failures included not following "standard infection control guidelines" at his practice but also allowing unqualified dental assistants to perform IV sedation on patients.



Watching the news and seeing the lines of patients waiting to get tested for Hepatitis and HIV, you may now be wondering if you should be concerned about your dentist and whether they are following the latest and strictest safety guidelines.

Dental Care in the United States is the safest in the World


The good news is that although Harrington provided dental care that was unsafe and unclean most of the 175,000 practicing dentists in the United States are following the appropriate guidelines.

In fact, if you are seeing a licensed dentist they have been taught how to uphold the appropriate standards through extensive training and should understand how to implement the appropriate patient safety protocols.

In fact, after a dentist graduates from dental school they should be certified to ensure they can independently provide oral health care. This certification will hopefully guarantee they will be able to put into practice the knowledge, skills and experiences they have acquired. States also require that dentists continue to participate in training to maintain their dental license.

According to a recent CNN report, “Dental schools, organized groups such as the American Dental Association, licensing boards and other dental organizations have made patient safety a priority during the past 25 years.”

Questions to ask your dentist?


Now that you know there is a real threat to acquiring deadly diseases if your medical professional fails to follow required sanitary practices you may wonder if there is something you can do to protect yourself. What should you be looking for when you sit in the dentist’s chair? There are a couple of steps you can take to ensure you remain safe.

  1. Make sure you feel comfortable asking questions. If your dentist becomes defensive when you question them about their safety procedures this could be a red flag and you may want to find a new dentist.

  2. Feel free to ask how your dentist cleans their dental equipment and tools. There are strict sterilizations procedures that they should be able to explain easily to you.

  3. Find out if your dentist can show you the sterilization room where tools are sterilized and bagged.

  4. Make sure the tools that they use on you come directly from the sterilizer.


May be if one of Dr. Harrington’s patients had reviewed the tools and safety procedures of Dr. Harrington someone would have noticed that he was not following the proper safety procedures.

If you notice unsafe conditions at your dental office it is time to report it to ensure that the issues are eliminated and you and other patients remain safe. A good place to start is the Board of Dental Examiners for your state.