Safety of Dentistry in Mexico - Hygiene and Cleanliness

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The lack of hygiene and cleaniess standards is often 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 dentists.

What are acceptable standards of hygiene and safety?

Choosing an overseas dentist is difficult enough when it comes to whether your dentist is 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 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. Practising 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.

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.

Amanda Duffy

Amanda Duffy is an expert in the field of medical and dental tourism having written extensively on the subject for a number of years. She is currently a key figure on the editorial team at Medical and Dental Departures.
To get in touch with this author, or for more info regarding this article, please contact us at author@dentaldepartures.com
This article is meant for information purposes only and is not intended to be dental advice or instructions for dental diagnosis or treatment. Please consult with your dentist or a qualified dental professional before starting or changing dental treatment
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