Many medical professions, including dentistry, have made previously inconceivable progress in the last two or three decades. For dentists and patients alike, these advancements make dental exams and operations more comfortable and effective.
Dental Vacuum Systems
Previously, dental vacuums used to remove excess saliva and debris from the mouth during an inspection or procedure required fresh water to function. This resulted in a significant waste of resources, costing a dental office up to $2,000 each year. Furthermore, due to the likelihood of bacterial growth and backflow with older “wet” vacuums, patients are at risk of infection.
New “dry” vacuum systems are now available that reduce water consumption, generate more suction for improved efficiency, are easier to clean, take up less floor area, and represent a lower risk of infection to patients in Washington.
Dental exam chairs, believe it or not, date back to 1790. They’ve evolved over the years, and manufacturers are still working on making exam chairs that are more comfortable for patients and more productive for dental professionals.
Because of the microorganisms that live in people’s mouths, sterilizing dental instruments is vital for keeping a clean and safe dental practice. A developer applied for a patent on a novel type of autoclave for sterilizing dental tools through pressure and intense temperatures as recently as 2014, with the goal of making it more modern and compact.
X-Ray Films and Machines
Many dental clinics are switching to digital x-rays, which are easier to enlarge and enhance, can be transferred electronically, and represent a lower risk of radiation exposure, due to the benefits to both practitioners and patients. The issue is that the older x-ray equipment must be appropriately disposed of in order to create room for the new equipment.
The more harmful elements your x-ray machine has, the older it is. The following are hazardous compounds that could be present in your outdated x-ray machine:
- Polychlorinated biphenyls
If you don’t properly dispose of certain forms of hazardous waste within a reasonable time after decommissioning your x-ray equipment, the Environmental Protection Agency may levy sanctions.
Disposing of x-ray films in Washington has its own set of difficulties. The silver emulsion in X-ray films is combustible and reactive, and it must be retrieved by a competent recycling business that specializes in this service. Furthermore, x-rays are subject to federal and state rules requiring the confidentiality of medical records. Breach of confidentiality can result in fines and other serious consequences.