What you should look for before seeing a dentist

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TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Health officials in Oklahoma are calling an oral surgeon who used dirty equipment and risked cross-contamination a "menace to public health" and are urging thousands of his patients to seek medical screenings for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. Though officials say such situations involving dental clinics are rare, Dr. Matt Messina, a dentist in Cleveland, Ohio, and a consumer adviser for the American Dental Association, says patients should ask their dentist and oral surgeon about the steps they and their staffs take to sterilize equipment.

"Asking questions about their infection control techniques is certainly valid," he said. "It's very acceptable and encouraged to ask the dentist about the steps they take on your behalf. There are a lot of things that happen behind the scenes."

Here are some other questions and criteria the American Dental Association recommends considering when selecting a dentist:

— Does the office appear to be clean, neat and orderly?

— Was your medical and dental history recorded and placed in a permanent file?

— Does the dentist explain techniques that will help you prevent dental health problems? Is dental health instruction provided?

— Are special arrangements made for handling emergencies outside of office hours?

— Is information provided about fees and payment plans before treatment is scheduled?

— Call or visit more than one dentist before making your decision, and take time to ask questions and take notes.

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Source: American Dental Association website: http://bit.ly/OGxz2I

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