This post is not to say that other dental offices are not following these procedures. This post is simply regarding SmileSense and the steps we take to ensure safety.
Have you ever gone to the water tap in your kitchen to fill up a glass of water, turned it to cold, and let the water run until you notice a temperature change? Did you know that by doing that, you are flushing out any "old" water that has been sitting in your water lines, ensuring that what's going in your glass is new, fresh water? That was news to me when I found that out.
Every morning, before patients come into the office, we run water through all hoses and water lines that deliver water to our patient's mouths. This has to be done for a minimum of two minutes before using water. In our water bottles on each chair in each room, we use specific tablets in the water (recommended by the manufacturer) that cuts down on any minerals found in the tap water that we fill the bottles with. Running this demineralized water through the lines every day removes any biofilm (a thin, slimy film of bacteria that adheres to a surface) that may have accumulated overnight. As well, over the weekend or when the chairs and water bottles will not be used for an extended period of time, the water bottles are emptied and left to dry, further reducing the risk of biofilm developing inside the bottles and therefore being run through our water lines. At the end of the week, a special solution formulated to kill bacteria is run through our lines and sit over the weekend (or until we use the chair again). Then, when the water bottle is filled again, demineralized water is run through the lines, flushing out the solution and leaving us with cleaned water lines and fresh water for our first patient.
Our suction devices (the saliva suction that you spit into, and the high-volume suction used when having restorative work done) do a lot of work in a day! To ensure that the hoses and the couplings (the metal attachments where the suction tips are inserted) are kept clean, we run a disinfectant solution through them after every procedure, even when it's "just a cleaning". Of course, all the suction tips are discarded after every patient as well, and a new one is placed for the next patient. Using this solution in the lines helps to disinfect everything and make sure there is no cross-contamination. We also use a high-grade enzyme cleaning solution through all of our lines which rids them of bacteria or anything that may have accumulated throughout the day, and this is typically done once a week, or after a surgical procedure.
Of course, we implement proper hand-washing techniques and hand-sanitizer usage, as well as gloves, masks, patient and employee eye protection, and all of our clinical staff is trained on how to effectively clean and disinfect the operatory to be used safely for the next patient.