It’s National Smile Month. How’s the Health of Your Dental Office?
Along with ringing in Summer and schools letting out, there’s a reason for several million smiles across the country this time of year: it’s National Smile Month. National Smile Month is an oral health campaign to raise awareness of important health issues, and that includes maintaining our pearly whites.
Beyond proper dental hygiene and maintenance for patients, it’s a good time for dental offices to reflect on the health and well-being of their offices, too, specifically how dental medical waste is dealt with and disposed of.
Dental offices are subject to a variety of federal, state, and local regulations concerning the safe handling of their waste materials.
According to Dentistry Today, there are several types of regulated medical waste in dental offices. These require special handling, and include pathologic waste, like exfoliated or extracted teeth, used sharps, such as injection needles, scalpel blades, instruments, burs, and broken contaminated glass, and potential sharps, such as anesthetic carpules.
Much like other medical waste, dental waste must be segregated. Regulated medical waste must be placed into appropriately designed containers, usually red biohazard bags or sharps boxes. Examples of regulated waste found in dental-practice settings are solid waste soaked or saturated with blood or saliva, extracted teeth, surgically removed hard and soft tissues, and contaminated sharp items. Used gloves, masks, and gowns are not considered regulated dental waste, therefore do not need to be segregated into containers.
Dental waste isn’t exclusive to needles, sharps, and other instruments. Dentists deal with amalgam fillings, a combination of metals that have been the most popular and effective filling material used in dentistry. According to the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP), “waste amalgam should be collected in the dental office for recycling by a licensed recycling facility.”
Other dental waste items include, but are not limited to:
- X-ray waste
- Solid waste containing pathogens that can cause infectious disease
- Fluids containing infectious agents
- Human tissue
- Sharps and red bags
- Other items capable of cutting, piercing, or puncturing the skin
- Vacuum pump filters
MedXwaste works with dental offices to help manage and dispose of dental medical waste. Our OSHA Compliance Program can help your office prepare for safety audits, design a safety plan builder, as well as keep you informed on all state and federal regulations.
While National Smile Month reminds us to maintain good oral hygiene, it’s as good a time as any for dental offices to go beyond the smile and keep their staff, patients, and communities, safe, too. The campaign encourages participation at any level by dental practices, and that should include safe and secure dental medical waste removal.