Not with standing the government’s tall claims of streamlining the health sector in the state, it has been allegedly said that the dental clinics and hospitals are not following the set guidelines of cleaning, sterilizing and storage of instruments that could expose people to diseases.
The experts have cautioned people to take extra caution during the visit to dental clinics, hospitals, so that they could not be exposed to hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases due to appalling hygiene negligence.
Sources told that rules are being disregarded in dentist clinics and hospitals particularly in rural areas due to unhygienic thus posing a threat to patients.
“The dentists and their subordinates are not sterilizing the equipments properly,” sources said. Sources said that some equipment cannot be cleaned and re-used safely and most be thrown away after each patient.”But no such practice is being followed at most dentist clinics and hospitals especially in rural areas,” sources said.
It has been observed that oral hygiene has mostly remained as an ignored and unrealized major social problem in the state. Majority of the people are unaware about the relationship between oral hygiene and systemic diseases or disorders.
Sources said that although there w ere modern equipments available in Dental Colleges in Srinagar and Jammu. “But in other hospitals, there are obsolete and old equipments,” they said. They said there was no check whether the dentists were following rules in maintaining the hygiene. “In some hospitals, a dentist sees around 50 patients and equipments are neither being sterilized nor using new ones,” they said. “Such lack of concern towards patients poses a serious threat of viral infection to patients,” they said.
However doctors at private clinics acknowledged that most dentists adhere to the stringent infection control guidelines. “Most dentists try to do the right thing,” one of the dentists wished not to be named.
In some hospitals and clinics, sources said that intravenous needle kit and out-of-date medicine stored are kept in a fridge alongside the staff’s packed lunches, while used gloves and tissues, and a packet of porridge oats, are stored on top of the sterilization machine.
The risk of patients catching blood-borne infections through inadequately sterilized equipment is also there. “Infection control practices in dentistry must be given the highest priority,” an official said.
The official said factors contributing to the steady rise in prevalence of periodontal disease include poor oral health awareness.
Oral health knowledge is considered to be an essential prerequisite for health-related behavior. The official said that no study has been done to assess the oral hygiene awareness in the state.
Over the past 20 years a significant amount of emphasis has been made on prevention of diseases rather than the treatment aspect. “Healthy teeth can last us a lifetime with the proper preventive dental care. Preventive oral health knowledge, behavior, and its practice are the important ways of keeping our teeth healthy,” the official said.
Minister of health and medical education said that strict guidelines are already in place for the oral hygiene and that action under law will be taken against those who undergo invasive procedures. “If people feel any unhygienic conditions in dental hospitals, clinics, they should directly contact me or health department. If there are any complaints, I will personally look into it” he said.