tools and protocols to keep your family safe

Clean. Safe. Safest.
Dr Larry O’Neill

Committed to Safety

One of the concepts we prioritized when designing our new dental clinic in Elizabeth was integrated infection control and sterilization procedures.

Our rooms are designed to remove harmful bacteria and viruses from the air and are utterly sterilized between patients. Your family can be assured of a medically sterile environment for even the simplest of dental cleanings!

Our staff is trained in standards and practices regarding COVID Safety that go above and beyond CDC guidelines.

If you want more detail, click on Deep Dive below:

Deep Dive

DENTISTRY IS SAFE in the COVID-19 era.  

[Don’t believe the media folks that are telling you to avoid dental care during the pandemic.  It has been demonstrated that dental health suffered during the time dental clinics were closed in March-May. Periodontal disease and decay got worse. Many fractured teeth went untreated resulting in eventual tooth loss.]

Dentistry has been very successfully carried out in the COVID era. Several studies on dental practices have found that fewer than 1% of dentists have caught COVID nationwide, and dental practices have not been shown to be a COVID-spreading environment. 

Dentistry itself has a long history of improving safety in the face of infectious diseases.  It’s funny to think now, but when I went to school, no one wore gloves or masks. I was one of the first in my class to wear safety glasses! We only sterilized oral surgery and endodontic equipment. All the mirrors, explorers, etc. for routine dentistry were cleaned and then soaked in Zepherin Chloride, the “bug bath”!  

Then in the 1980’s, new concerns surrounding HIV/AIDS changed things. Gloves and masks became required and as time went on everything had to be autoclaved. Eventually, lab coats or gowns became compulsory. With those changes, we successfully treated patients through AIDS, Hepatitis A, B, and C, flu, SARS, MERS, Bird Flu, and all the rest of the seemingly yearly mini-pandemics.  

Today with COVID-19, we have elevated our safety protocols even further. N95 and type3 masks, full gowns, face shields and head covers are all being used for the majority of procedures. We permit only one person to accompany a patient and only if required. Verbal and health screenings are carried out the day before and on arrival at the clinic, where your temperature is checked.  You will be asked to use a mouthwash before treatment, and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before and after treatment.

The design of our new building was actually informed by the ideas I’d already developed over the years for maximizing infection control efforts in a dental clinic. We planned the building and began construction before COVID-19 hit. It has become a very fortunate design feature of our clinic, for our patients and ourselves.

Negative Air Pressure Rooms

Aerosol control

One of the big issues with dentistry has always been the aerosol that is created when the hygienist or doctor uses an ultrasonic tooth cleaner or a handpiece to cut teeth. A fine mist containing oral fluids, bacteria, and virus is created. That mist is ejected outside the mouth and lands on shelves, floors, the chair, etc. This is nothing new in dentistry. It has been there since the electric dental handpiece was developed (1875). We have combatted that by draping equipment and surfaces, sterilizing everything, cleaning all surfaces between each patient, etc. As far as I know, dental aerosol has NEVER been implicated in disease transmission. But COVID-19 brought aerosol into question because of the ease of spread of the virus.

Digital dental lab

We are working to eliminate the mess that the dental laboratory has traditionally been. By eliminating the mess of various types of plaster that are used for dental models and instead using digital printing, we eliminate the dust, noise, and aerosols associated with dental model preparation. The lab also has it own evacuation fan to remove odors and dust.

High ceilings

When you visit, you’ll notice that the ceilings in the dental surgeries are very high. By increasing the volume of the room, we have a better chance of diluting any aerosol and preventing it reaching you than we would in a tightly enclosed space.

State of the art sterilization

Besides all the OSHA mandated controls for sterilization, we have implemented additional safeguards. We use an instrument washer and cassette system to process instruments. This makes cleaning instruments easier, faster, safer, and cleaner than older methods. It also eliminates the aerosol created by the large ultrasonic bath that is used to clean instruments before autoclaving in many practices. Our autoclaves send a report of each run to the cloud and they are reviewed daily, to complement the autoclave indicators in each pack of instruments and routine third party biologic testing. We’re really clean.

Laser dentistry

Laser dentistry also helps reduce aerosol production because the laser can be used to clean the mouth before treatment by Laser Bacterial Reduction. When used to prepare a tooth, there is no spinning burr to throw things into the air and the laser beam cleans the spot where it is working as it goes. 

Modern handpieces

Air-driven handpieces (dental drills) have been replaced by electric handpieces which reduce the amount of aerosols produced during tooth preparation. Air-driven handpieces can rotate at 400,000 rpm where electric handpieces turn at around 100,000 rpm thereby throwing less liquid into the air.

Negative air pressure

We have a gigantic fan in the dental surgery (operatory) that we turn on when performing aerosol-generating procedures. That fan turns the air over in the operatories every few minutes to evacuate whatever aerosol is floating around.

Space while waiting

The waiting room is long and narrow. We can socially distance several people there.

Surfaces

All floors, counters and surfaces are solid to enable cleaning.

Ahead of all of our services ,we’re committed to high safety standards. We aim to make those standards the best in the state. That’s why we built our new center from the ground up.