Dental Patient Safety during Your Visit to Smile Design DentistryDental Patient Safety during Visits to Smile Design Dentistry

The “Patient Safety Movement” dominates news in our new world of caution and questions about access to safe and efficient healthcare.

This article answers how infections and anxiety impact the field of dentistry. One thing that is clear is that dental patient services will never be the same again. The services we offer will be better. Historic events in the medical field change the way we provide modern dental services – forever. We are safer, our dental patient safety practices are safer, and our society is safer because of it.

Asking about a dental office’s safety protocol is one of many great questions to ask when choosing your dentist. Our global fear and suffering in the midst of a pandemic enlightens us for a better tomorrow. Pushing the healtcare industry for answers about patient safety is good. To this end, Smile Design Dentistry provides those answers about patient safety. Recognized as top Plymouth, MN dentists, we endeavour to be leaders in dental patient ethics and safety.

Our Commitment to Leadership in Dental Office Safety

We have ramped up our infection control procedures for the safety of our patients, staff, and team members during your dental visits. Complete oral health and overall health is our goal for each and every patient. We continually evaluate possible gaps in the continuity of dental care and progress in patient safety; we find solutions.

The WHO Framework on integrated people-centred health services reports that among survey participants, 63% of patients state that they value seeing someone they know and trust. A strong patient safety focus is foundational to our role as your trusted dental provider. Aware that patients want “a trusting relationship with someone who knows me”, we strive to earn and keep your trust.

Our patient-centered care approach enhances patient outcomes. We maintain an exceptionally high level of customer loyalty. This extraordinary effort on our part means that you can kick back and relax more when visiting our dental office.

Let’s jump right into some QandA on dental patient safety.

Who Oversees a Dental Office’s Safety Measures?

There are many regulatory agencies that advise dental professionals and create the safety regulations that are in place today. It is, however, up to each individual dentist to create and regulate their own protocols for their offices. At Smile Design Dentistry we have created very strict programs and protocols for the safety of both our staff and patients.

Smile Design Dentistry has or is guided by the following organizations:

  • Center for Disease Control
  • OSHA
  • Minnesota Pollution Control
  • Minnesota Department of Health
  • Minnesota Board of Dentistry
  • Hennepin County
  • American Dental Association

Dentists are doctors that may contribute to emergent situations; our education and training has endowed us with unique knowledge and skills. We are aware that most infections enter the body through the mouth. That’s why our in-office safety procedures and teaching our dental patients personal oral hygiene is very important to us. This applies to every dental patient that we see; from our pediatric dentistry services to anti-aging dentistry.

What are the two primary OSHA standards that apply to dental offices?

The Bloodborne Pathogens Standard is the most often requested and quoted OSHA standard affecting medical and dental offices. Foundational requirements of the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens standard include:

  • A written exposure control plan, to be updated annually under normal circumstances.
  • A statement available to patients of universal precautions.

Our Smile Design Dentistry policy on safety is:

We will provide the best equipment, best supplies and the best training possible to assure our staff and patients are being kept as safe as possible during all procedures.

What Areas of Safety Need Managing in a Dental Office?

With so many different regulatory agencies overseeing us, dental offices have to consider safety in many areas.

1. Dental Office Design and Construction

2. Dental Patient Radiation Safety

3. Exposure Control Plan

4. Standard Pprecautions

5. Personal Protective Equipment

6. Hand-washing

7. Sterilization Pprotocol

8. Training and Monitoring

9. Safe Patient Handling Protocols

10. Medical Eemergency Protocols

Let’s cover each more in-dpeth.

1. Dental Office Design and Construction:

Our clinical space, specifically our sterilization department, was designed and built with the aid of the Benco Dental Company making sure we created a safe environment for our staff and patients. We strive to maximize our offices space for efficiency and to provide the very best Plymouth, MN dental services.

2. Dental Patient Radiation Safety:

Our X-ray equipment is calibrated and monitored on a regular basis. At Smile Design, we use all digital equipment for our images which allows us to turn our machines to their lowest exposure setting. We also follow the “ALARA guidelines” which means ‘as low as reasonably achievable’ when making decisions on what images are needed to provide the best care. Our most recent purchase of a Planmeca Cone Beam Computerized Tomography (CBCT) allows us to take extremely low dose 3D images. These images provide an enormous amount of information using a very low dose of radiation.

3. Exposure Control Plan:

With the help of Leanne Mathieu Kramer LDA, CDA, CDPMA, and Compliance Solutions, Smile Design has a written safety plan, an appointed Infection Control Officer and regular training for all staff. This plan is the basis for all of our daily routines and is constantly reinforced with the staff.

4. Standard Precautions:

We have trained our staff with these CDC guidelines. Standard precautions include but are not limited to proper use of personal protective equipment, respiratory hygiene, sharps safety, safe injection practices, sterile instruments and devices, and proper cleaning and disinfecting environmental surfaces.

5. Personal Protective Equipment:

This includes proper use of gloves, masks, eye protection with side shields, face shields and scrubs. We change gloves and masks with every patient. Our scrubs have limited wear to our office and are cleaned on-site so pathogens are not brought in or out of our office.

5. Hand washing:

Handwashing has been and will continue to be the number one defense to avoid spreading germs. Our staff does a thorough 20 second scrub before seeing patients and throughout the day. In addition, every room has a sanitizing foam station to aid in the prevention of germs.

7. Sterilization:

Between every patient visit all surfaces in the dental room are wiped down with Cavicide wipes. Our staff maintains their PPE on while all tools and equipment are put back into the sterilizable cassette. This cassette is then carried to our state of the art sterilization area where it is placed in a Hydram. This machine works like a powerful dishwasher to remove all debris from the instruments. Once they are dried, the cassettes are then wrapped in a heat resistant paper, sealed and then placed in our Midmark sterilizer and run for a full cycle to kill any germs which still might remain. These sterilized instruments then are stored in a sterile area until they are used again.

8. Training and Monitoring:

The team at Smile Design Dentistry is committed to excellence with the protocols which have been created and put in place. We have a half- day training with Compliance Solutions which is mandatory for all employees where we review all of our safety protocols for our office. In addition, we have monthly team meetings where our Infection Control Officer reviews concerns and provides updates.

At these meetings we always openly ask our staff for their input on areas of concern or improvement. We also have daily morning meetings where the team has the opportunity to share and discuss any concerns. Our goal is to hold every employee to the highest standard for the safety of each other and our patients.

9. Safe Patient Handling:

We have yearly meetings to update our protocols to safely assist patients in and out of our office. Additionally, we continue to assess specific risks associated with patient movement as they surface, such as in our current global pandemic.

10. Medical Emergency Protocols:

We have regular training for office management of medical emergencies. We have assigned duties for each employee in case of an incident. Our first goal is to recognize the risks and avoid a dental emergency, from ever occurring. We go over and above the recommendations by taking a blood pressure on all patients at the beginning of their appointment.

What’s the Future in Dental Office Safety Protocol?

The evolution of dentistry in the last 30 years has been monumental. Today it is not uncommon for children to never have a cavity. We understand disease so much better and have so many new technologies to manage it. We have new technologies in orthodontics, like Invisalign, which have created new interest and opportunities for many. We can replace missing teeth routinely today by placing and restoring dental implants.

This evolution has gone far beyond our procedures though. We also are keeping our staff and patients safer than ever with all of the strict protocols we have put in place to prevent the transmission of disease. When we consider our new world in 2020 with the COVID-19 virus, we will evolve even further. We have been reminded that proper handwashing continues to be one of our greatest defenses. Using equipment like PPE’s, disinfectants, dental barrier techniques, high power suctions and airflow management will continue to be very important means of creating a safe environment.

The greatest defense often starts before patients or staff even enters the building. Going forward it will be essential for both staff and patients to properly self-report if they are not feeling well. People with acute symptoms of respiratory disease need to stay at home and recover before presenting to the dental office. In the past, many of us often try to ignore our symptoms and power through our day even if we are not well. What we are learning from our experience with Coronavirus is that this habit will need to change.

One new protocol that is likely to be put in place in the future is for everyone to have their temperature taken prior to being brought from the reception area to the treatment rooms to make sure they do not have a fever. This likely will also include doing temperature scans of the staff at the start of the day.

Putting Patient Safety in Perspective

A high integrity dental office begins with an encompassing culture of safety where a team of educated, well-directed and empowered professionals come together to ensure the safety of all. Our doctors and team at Smile Design Dentistry are proud to be that office. – Corey Jensen DDS

There are many things we can do to keep each other safe in the dental office going g forward. Below is an illustration of the importance of each:

things we can do to keep each other safe in the dental office

  • First and foremost, we need to try to eliminate disease from entering our work place. People who are ill need to be honest for the protection of everyone around them and stay home.
  • Secondly, Corey Jensen DDS, MAGD and Brett Moore DDS have created a safe workplace with the best equipment available for the staff and patients at Smile Design Dentistry.
  • Third, the staff has been trained by outside consultants specializing in the best practices in our daily routine for disinfecting and sterilizing our work environment.
  • Lastly, our team will use all available personal protective devices to protect both themselves and our patients.


Dental Medicine has a key role in the energetic patient safety movement. Our dental team is passionate about the quality of care we offer. We believe that itʼs important to be extra vigilant during heighten concerns about infection and patient safety during dental office visits. We take your concerns seriously.

We give you lots of reasons to love your dentist.

Call us at 763-537-1238.

Dr. Corey Jensen is a lead Physician at Smile Design Dentistry in Plymouth, MinnesotaDr. Corey Jensen is a lead dentist at Smile Design Dentistry in Plymouth, Minnesota. Dr. Jensen has accumulated over 2400 additional hours of advanced education in his continued pursuit of excellence. He has received the highest distinction of “Master” in the Academy of General Dentistry and has been repeatedly recognized by his peers as a “Hall of Fame -Top Dentist” in the Mpls/St.Paul magazine.