Your Healthy Family

Apr 3, 2013 9:31 AM by Marissa Torres

What you need to know before heading to the dentist

Thousands of patients could have been exposed to HIV and Hepatitis after seeing an Oklahoma dentist accused of unsanitary practices.

Patients who visited Dr. Scott Harrington's suburban office are now anxiously awaiting their medical fate.

Authorities say Harrington's unsanitary practices may have exposed at least 7,000 patients to HIV and Hepatitis.

It's a scary situation that's now sending shockwaves through Southern Colorado.

"If anyone was to be held accountable for higher standards it would be someone that's doing surgery on a routine basis," says Colorado Springs dentist, Dr. Fred Guerra.

Surgery or not, Dr.Guerra says sanitary conditions aren't only the law, they're key to protecting your patients.

"If we treat everybody as if they had a communicable disease... and if we're following all of the proper procedures for that one patient, even though they don't have a communicable disease... then our patients down the road that day are protected."

So what is the required protocol? We took a walk through the sanitation room at Dr. Guerra's practice. It's an area where all the used and dirty dental instruments go after being used on a patient.

"[They're] put in an ultrasonic tank to have the bacteria [and] debris, whatever might accumulate on those instruments from a patient, are pre-cleaned and then bagged and placed in a sterilizer."

And even though you notice certain items may be covered in the exam room, everything still needs to be wiped and disinfected after each patient.

"Ask your dentist what he or she is doing to make sure that this situation never occurs like it did."



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