Is fear of cross-contamination getting to your patients? RPA Dental

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  Posted by: The Probe      25th November 2018

Discovering that a patient has dental phobia has become an all too common occurrence in the dental practice. Today, statistics suggest that nearly half of the UK’s adult population have a fear of visiting the dentist, while 12% suffer from extreme dental anxiety.[i]This can make it difficult to provide much needed dental treatment to patients in need and can be very frustrating for both parties.

Naturally, one of the best ways to deal with dental phobia can be to address the issue head on. Find out what it is that your patients are so afraid of. It may be that you can help in some way by making a few small changes around the practice or explaining some of the processes in a slightly different way that makes them sound less daunting. Perhaps the patient simply has a question that they are too frightened to come out and ask but you have the answer to.

A lot of the time, though, it’s not too difficult to guess what’s behind the fear. Trepidation about possible pain, bleeding and sharp objects being inserted into the mouth are some of the usual suspects, while bright lights, loud noises and clinical unpleasantness can instantly trigger panic. And who could blame them?

The other concern that can engulf patients and either stop them from attending the practice or ruin their experience is cross-contamination. As you can imagine, the thought of coming into contact with dangerous pathogens and contracting an infection is enough to incite fear in any patient, especially those that are predisposed to getting the dental jitters. They might be able to see that your surgery is visibly clean but it’s the fear of the unknown that’s the worst – and sadly, as you know, infectious agents are invisible to the naked eye.

In a way, patients are right to be concerned. There are a wide variety of pathogens that could potentially find their way into the dental practice, both viral – such as Hepatitis B, C and D and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) – and bacterial. These can include Mycobacterium tuberculosis,Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Neisseria meningitidis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Legionella,amongst others.

Still, there is currently little to suggest that cross-infection is a major problem or concern for UK dental practices (as it stands there is little available data on the prevalence of transmission and incidences).[ii]Plus, the expected standards from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) are extremely high so the risk of a large-scale epidemic taking place is heavily reduced.

This is worth reminding your patients, as it may help to lessen the stigma surrounding infection control. Perhaps explain in layman’s terms some of the protocols in place within your practice to highlight the efforts that are taken to ensure safety. While they obviously don’t need to know the ins and outs, having a better understanding of what goes on to prevent cross-infection might help to put patients’ minds at rest and ease dental fear.

Similarly, if you have a good CQC report that shows your compliance to the five fundamental standards (safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led) it might be worth making it available to your patients. Demystifying the matter will make it seem much less daunting. Of course, this won’t work if there are any concerns with the practice, so it’s integral that all the right steps are taken to ensure that infection prevention and control is properly taken care off. Not doing so will surely give something for patients to worry about.

HTM 01-05 guidelines offer all the information you could possibly need about what practices must be implemented, but there are extra precautions that can be taken for ultimate compliance and safety. You could, for instance, purchase equipment that has been specially designed with infection control in mind. Take the Castellini Skema 8 dental unit available from RPA Dental. With features such as the Autosteril system to provide disinfection of the spray water circuits and M.W.B continuous disinfection system to protect against waterborne contaminations, the Skema 8 helps to reduce risk and provide peace of mind. Users of the Skema 8 can also achieve outstanding levels of hygiene thanks to the chair’s removable autoclavable parts, seamless upholstery with antibacterial treatment, and easy to clean surfaces.

Dental phobia will always be a problem, but with the right steps you should be able to address concerns about infection cross-contamination and ease patients’ minds that they’re protected against dangerous pathogens. At least that will be one fear ticked off the list!

 

RPA Dental Equipment Ltd.

Visit us at www.rpadental.net

London and Manchester Sales and Service Centres call 08000 933 975

 

[i]National Smile Month: Facts and Figures. Accessed online April 2018 at http://www.nationalsmilemonth.org/facts-figures/.

[ii]British Dental Association: Cross-infection and the ‘cost of illness’. Published February 2015. Accessed online April 2018 at https://bda.org/dentists/education/sgh/Documents/Cross-infection%20and%20the%20%E2%80%98cost%20of%20illness%E2%80%99%20%20V2.pdf


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