Infection Control

Preamble from the Alberta Dental Association

“Issues with the cleaning and sterilization of medical equipment, as well as infection prevention and control, were identified in the East Central Health Region in March 2007. Dave Hancock, Minister of Health and Wellness, immediately ordered an investigation of the situation by the Health Quality Council of Alberta, and a review of infection prevention and control policies, practices and procedures province-wide.  The findings of both reports indicated a need for provincial infection prevention and control standards for all facilities providing health care services.

Although Infection Prevention and Control standards within dental offices have always been at a high standard, the Minister directed Alberta Health and Wellness to include the provincial standards into the Alberta Dental Infection Prevention and Control Strategy.

As a result of the Alberta Infection Prevention and Control Strategy and Standards, the Alberta Dental Association and College has developed standards for dental offices in Alberta. These new standards have required time and the rethinking of office procedures in delivering dental treatment. Many of these standards have been quite extensive and expensive as new equipment and training has been required which has increased costs and brought about an increase in dental fees.”

Higson Dental Group

At Higson Dental Group, we have taken a very proactive approach to implementing the new standards.  We updated our sterilization center and instrument delivery protocols during the Summer of 2011 at a cost approximating $100,000, months before the new standards came into effect in January 2012.  Our practice was also one of the first offices in Grande Prairie to be inspected for compliance with the new standards by the Health Protection Branch of the Alberta Government and the Alberta Dental Association.  We passed the inspection with positive feedback with our old sterilization center and instrument delivery protocols still in place.  Below is a picture of our new, state of the art A-dec SteriCenter installed in our practice.


  Higson Dental Group’s A-dec SteriCenter  

Our infection control protocols are in accordance with the latest Alberta Dental Association and College (ADA+C) infection guidelines. Here are some of the measures we take to protect both our patients and our staff from disease transmission:

  • We use single use devices when available for items that come into direct contact with a patient’s mouth, (ie: needle tips or the tips of irrigation and drying hoses).
  • We sterilize our instruments and disinfect all surfaces (including lights and chairs) between each and every patient visit.
  • We perform regular equipment checks and tests on the autoclaves (heat sterilizer), water retraction valves and all other equipment.
  • Besides cleaning, sterilizing and disinfecting, there are frequent checks in the office and the laboratory to ensure everything meets provincial standards.
  • A standard biological spore test on sterilizers is done daily.  Every load is monitored by mechanical and chemical testing.
  • Every instrument cassette is hand inspected and marked with the sterilization load number, date and time that it was sterilized. Each sterilization bag and cassette is marked with two different levels of process indicators to assure each and every sterilization cycle is fully complete.
  • Our Dentists and staff use protective barriers such as eye protectors, disposable masks and gloves.
  • Our clinical staff check a patient’s health history at each visit. However, not everyone knows whether they have contracted something in the early stages, so standard precautions call for each patient to be managed as if they have an infectious disease.

At Higson Dental Group, we are very aware that infection control can be a concern for patients. We ensure that all our staff are very well trained and vigilant in maintaining currently-recommended protocols. We constantly strive to be as good as we can be for the safety of our patients and our staff.  The best defense against disease is information. The more you know, the better equipped you are to make wise decisions about your health care. The more you know about our daily procedures and policies, the more comfortable you will feel.  If you ever have any questions about infection control protocols, please don’t hesitate to ask. We will gladly provide you with a tour and demonstration of our sterilization centre. For more information about infection control, please visit the Alberta Dental Association & College.