The discussion of hygiene and cleanliness standards has often been used to question the safety of dentistry in Mexico. Considering hygiene is one of the pre-requisites of basic safety in any dental or medical procedure, it seems strange there isn’t one internationally-recognized standard or accreditation scheme.
Instead, there are a number of different accreditation schemes, including the Joint Commission International (JCI) or the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards International (ACHSI).
There are also guidelines on hygiene standards for dental tourists to look out for, issued from a number of sources, for example, the Organization for Safety and Asepsis Procedures (OSAP) and the International Standards Organization (ISO).
However, not all of these accreditation schemes are universally applied, and some, like JCI accreditation, are usually only applied to hospitals as the expense of having the certification is prohibitively expensive for a normal-sized dental or medical clinic.
With that in mind, ISO certification is predominantly the standard used by most of our listed dental clinics.
What Are Acceptable Standards of Hygiene and Safety?
Choosing a dentist overseas is difficult enough in terms of ascertaining whether your dentist is properly qualified, but with no one international protocol, what should patients be looking for when it comes to standards of safety and hygiene?
OSAP recommends dental clinics should be compliant with basic infection control and safety standards. By seeking to prevent the transmission of disease-causing organisms, effective infection control should:
- Reduce such numbers through cleaning, disinfecting and sterilization of instruments and surfaces
- Prevent exposure to contaminants by using barriers such as gloves, masks, protective eyewear and gowns, or by covering surfaces to prevent contamination
- Improve disease resistance through the proper use of antibiotics and vaccinations
A combination of all three will result in the most successful approach. However, to patients who cannot visit their chosen dentist for an inspection beforehand, this advice may be of little consequence.
Safety Procedures in Place at Dental Departures’ Clinics
At Dental Departures, we are aware of our patients’ concerns regarding dentistry in Mexico, and that it is not always possible for patients to travel to clinics and check them out beforehand - and so we have become our patients’ eyes and ears.
Visiting all of our clinics we can see for ourselves what procedures are in place to ensure the safety of our patients. Our checklist regarding hygiene requirements follow the same criteria as OSAP, with basic hygiene being of considerable importance in our hygiene safety assessments.
By far, experts are agreed that handwashing is the single most important element in reducing the spread of infection. Practicing universal precautions such as handwashing, especially with antibacterial soap, prior to donning and immediately after removing disposable protective rubber gloves goes a long way in effective infection control.
Other hygiene and cleanliness considerations include:
- Disposable gloves, gowns and protective eyewear protect both patients and healthcare workers. Dentists and assistants wear new gloves for each patient, disposing of them after use.
- Equipment, such as disposable injection needles are used instead of reusable needles, which are considered to pose a high risk of spreading bloodborne viruses.
- Autoclave or dry-heat sterilizers kill potential disease-causing viruses, and all heat-stable instruments are sterilized in this way, including all instruments used for surgery, such as a sinus lift, for example. After sterilization instruments are stored in sterile conditions until use. Any instruments that cannot tolerate high temperatures are soaked in disinfectant after cleaning.
- Instruments that have not been in contact with blood, or used outside the mouth, are cleaned before wiping or soaking with disinfectant.
- In areas where the water is unsafe to drink, it is also unsuitable for dental treatment. Bottled sterile water or boiled water is considered an acceptable alternative.
These measures may seem basic, but adherence to these principles, and maintaining hygienic work surfaces with regular use of anti-bacterial sprays, ensure that our dentists in Mexico are as safe and hygienic as any dental clinic at home.
Find out More with Dental Departures
If you have any questions or concerns about the safety of dentistry in Mexico, feel free to reach out to our Customer Care Team via our toll-free number at any time of day or night.
Australian Council on Healthcare Standards International (ACHSI). Website accessed: 23 November 2020. http://www.achs.org.au/
JCI-Accredited Organizations. Website accessed: 23 November 2020. https://www.jointcommissioninternational.org/about-jci/accredited-organizations/
The Organization for Safety and Asepsis Procedures (OSAP). Website accessed: 23 November 2020. http://www.osap.org/
International Organization for Standardization. Website accessed: 23 November 2020. https://www.iso.org/home.html
Hygiene Instruments. American Dental Association. Website accessed: 23 November 2020. https://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-dental-product-guide/product-category?catid=119
Show Me the Science - Why Wash Your Hands? Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Website accessed: 23 November 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/why-handwashing.html