Dental infection control requires two essential factors: stopping the spread by a patient and staff leader of harmful microorganisms and destroying the microorganisms on surfaces and tools. Read more about how to properly control the infection.

Hand Washing: Bacteria and other diseases that can be transmitted through easy contact with blood and saliva, regularly come into contact with a dentist, hygienist and sterilization technician and have hand washing between patients a must. At least 20 minutes before rinsing should be used to work a strong lather of antibacterial soap.

Surface Disinfecting: All surfaces, such as the dental chair, tray, tooth light, suction pants, cuspids, countertops, handles of drawers, sinks, lenses and X-ray equipment, should be thoroughly cleaned and decontaminated before the dental patient enters the examination room. For additional protection, a number of offices cover selected areas with disposable coverings, such as dental light grips and switches.

Disposable Items: All dental offices adhere to strict sterilization and waste removal procedures which are carefully outlined by the American Dental Association (ADA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Saliva ejectors and needles cannot be reused, and are to be discarded in special containers.

Masks: Surgical masks are to be worn by the dental staff during all procedures in order to prevent the transmission of bacteria from their mouths’ to the patient’s mouth. These masks are disposable and are often made of thin, flexible paper or synthetic fibers that are only stable for 1 to 2 hours. This is because the moisture from the mouth and nose will eventually soak through the mask, rendering it useless in terms of infection control. Once this happens, the mask should be changed immediately, before continuing on with the dental procedure.

Gloves: Disposable gloves must fit well and be changed after each patient, after hand washing. In some instances, gloves may need to be changed several times during a procedure, such as with a root canal, which requires that many x-rays be taken and developed in a separate room.

Dental Instruments: Many dental patients wonder what happens to metal dental instruments after they leave the mouth and are taken away to the sterilization room. All reusable mouth instruments, such as mouth mirrors, explorers, spoon excavators, and scaling instruments are carefully removed from the dirty tray and placed into an ultrasonic cleaning device that uses water and a special bubbling cleaning agent to remove dried saliva and blood droplets from all instruments. After the timer goes off on the ultrasonic cleaning machine, the instruments are washed off with water, patted dry, separated, and then placed inside disposable indicator bags or reusable locking containers. Once the instruments are properly packaged, they are commonly placed inside a steam autoclave machine which sterilizes instruments at extreme heat, ensuring that all bacteria and pathogens are killed.

Scrubs and lab coats are too be changed each day and laundered either through a professional laundering service or at the dental worker’s home.

Eye Protection: All dental team members are required to wear either protective goggles or a face mask to prevent the eyes from being exposed to bacteria or pathogens from tiny droplets that splash in the air through the use of high-speed hand drills and other dental devices.

Dental patients and team members are vulnerable to the exposure of blood and other respiratory secretions. By carefully following all of the recommended guidelines for infection control, the transmission of dangerous diseases can and will be prevented.

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