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Broken Arrow Dentist Demonstrates Proper Sterilization Of Tools

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The State Board of Dentistry says Dr. Scott Harrington wasn't cleaning his tools properly, and that may have exposed as many as 7,000 patients to disease. The State Board of Dentistry says Dr. Scott Harrington wasn't cleaning his tools properly, and that may have exposed as many as 7,000 patients to disease.
At Cedar Creek Dental, in Broken Arrow, all equipment goes through a thorough cleaning process. At Cedar Creek Dental, in Broken Arrow, all equipment goes through a thorough cleaning process.
Dr. Dennis Vo. Dr. Dennis Vo.
Dental assistants can get certified to give X-rays, polish teeth, and administer laughing gas, but it is against the law for them to give IV sedations. Dental assistants can get certified to give X-rays, polish teeth, and administer laughing gas, but it is against the law for them to give IV sedations.
BROKEN ARROW, Oklahoma -

The State Board of Dentistry says Dr. Scott Harrington wasn't cleaning his tools properly, and that may have exposed as many as 7,000 patients to disease.

They say the machine used to sterilize equipment, the autoclave, hadn't been tested in six years, when a monthly test is required by the manufacturer. That autoclave machine runs about $5,000 and it costs about $200 a year to have it tested.

4/2/2013 Related Story: Health Department: Over 1,000 Tulsa Dental Patients Tested For HIV, Hepatitis

A local dentist said that cost should not be a deterrent when it comes to patients' health.

At Cedar Creek Dental, in Broken Arrow, all equipment goes through a thorough cleaning process. First dental assistants rinse the tools off with water, then they put them inside an Ultrasonic machine.

"When you put it in this machine, it kind of shakes everything up for a certain amount of time. It gets all the debris off," said Dr. Dennis Vo.

That takes about 15 minutes. Once it's finished, the tools are rinsed off again, bagged, and then placed inside the autoclave.

"It takes out all the air, brings it up to a certain temperature, pressure, and sterilizes it and cleans everything really well," Vo said.

He said you know it's clean once a label on the back of the bag changes colors.

"The assistants do all of this, so if one person's not doing their job, it's real easy to be like, 'Hey where's all the clean bags with all the color changes on them?'" Vo said.

Vo said all tools with blood on them are placed inside a special biohazard container and handled separately.

"It's kind of hard to not go through all of the process," Vo said.

Cleaning tools is just one job that dental assistants can legally perform.

"They sit chair side with us, help us with the patient. They assist us with certain things, getting things, handing us things," Vo said.

4/1/2013 Related Story: Former Patient Says Tulsa Dentist Allowed Assistant To Administer IV Sedation

He said dental assistants can get certified to give X-rays, polish teeth, and administer laughing gas, but it is against the law for them to give IV sedations, which is one thing investigators and former patients have said was happening in Dr. Harrington's office.

As a patient, there is no real way of knowing if your dentist is cleaning tools properly, but Vo said, if you're concerned, don't be afraid to ask. He said, if the dentist is doing everything right, then they'll have no problem alleviating any fears you may have.

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