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OHIO DENTAL ASSOCIATION SAYS DENTAL OFFICES ARE SAFE

 OHIO DENTAL ASSOCIATION SAYS DENTAL OFFICES ARE SAFE
 COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Citing dentistry's record on reducing the risk of infection for patients, the Ohio Dental Association (ODA) today reaffirmed the safety of the dental office and instruments used by dentists.
 "Contrary to what has been implied in some reports, no case exists where it has been shown that a dental patient became infected from dental equipment," said Dr. Pat Metro, president of the ODA and a practicing dentist in Cleveland. There currently is no scientific data that shows infection can be transmitted by instruments, and theories about cross-infection of patients from instruments have not been proved."
 Metro said research over the years had improved infection control procedures used by dentists and other health care workers and increased the safety of dental offices and other health care settings. As examples, he cited the increased use of protective barriers, such as gloves, masks and gowns; the inoculation of health care workers against hepatitis; and the manufacture of instruments that can withstand high temperature sterilizations. "Whenever research has developed new information or techniques on infection control, dentists have been quick to implement it," he said.
 Dentists are initially trained in infection control in dental school and continue to receive instruction throughout their careers, Metro noted. "Dentists practice universal precautions, which means always using the same infection control procedures with each patient," he said.
 Universal precautions include the use of protective barriers; handwashings and changing gloves between patients; use of disposable items; and the proper sterilization and disinfection of instruments and equipment that are re-used.
 Ohio dentists have led the nation's health care workers for more than four years in rules to protect patients from exposure to viruses. In 1987 the Ohio State Dental Board was the first health care board in the country to require its licensees to follow comprehensive infection control rules. Dentists and dental hygienists can lose their license for failure to comply.
 In a dental office, instruments are sterilized to kill bacteria and viruses, including the AIDS and hepatitis viruses. Instruments that can withstand high temperature are scrubbed clean and then steam or dry heat sterilized, while instruments that cannot be heated are scrubbed clean and then sterilized or disinfected in chemical solutions.
 "These infection control procedures work," Metro said. "They are used every day in dental offices and other health care settings across the country. Their effectiveness is borne out by the fact that there has never been a confirmed case of either the AIDS or hepatitis B virus being transmitted through dental instruments."
 To further allay concerns about cross-infection, Metro noted the American Dental Association had recently asked Dr. Louis Sullivan, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, to have federal government health agencies more aggressively research the transmission of the AIDS virus in health care settings.
 "Your dentist's office is safe," Metro emphasized. "Patients should feel free to ask their dentists about infection control measures. We want them to be comfortable knowing that we are using all the steps necessary to protect their health."
 For a free brochure on infection control and the dental office call the Ohio Dental Association, 800-MY-SMILE.
 -0- 5/22/92
 /CONTACT: Suzanne Payne of the Ohio Dental Association,


614-486-2700/ CO: Ohio Dental Association ST: Ohio IN: HEA SU:

CG -- CL002 -- 3190 05/22/92 09:32 EDT
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Date:May 22, 1992
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