Tue | Aug 14, 2018

Infection control in the dental office

Published:Monday | October 13, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Setina Evans, RDH

Guidelines for specific instructions on the methods of infection control are standardised by the Centers for Disease Control and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The staff of the dental office must practise within these guidelines.

The chemicals used for disinfection in the dental office should have the ability to destroy benchmark organisms which cause legionnaires disease, HIV/AIDS, STDs, Hepatitis ABCD, herpes simplex virus, flu influenza (H1N1) virus and tuberculosis etc. The disinfectant should be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control, and the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

At The Beginning of the Day:

The suction unit is run for 60 seconds. The waterline is flushed and cleared by running the Ultrasonic scaler, air water syringe and high-speed hand piece. The floor is cleaned. The operatory is prepared for a patient by disinfecting the cupboards, counters, dental unit and dental equipment. Protective barriers are then placed

on surfaces that become contaminated during procedures, for example, light handles,head rest, saliva ejectors and air water syringe handles. Before dental treatment, the patient is prepared by receiving a pre-procedural mouth rinse, protective eyewear, a bib, and vital signs taken. Sterilised instruments in sealed pouches are opened in front of the patient.

After Each Patient:

The clinical staff disposes contaminated gloves and hands are washed. The dental operatory is decontaminated. All surfaces touched during treatment of patient are disinfected. Disposable materials which come in contact with blood are placed in bags labelled Bio-Hazard. Contaminated needles, sharps and used anesthetic capsules are disposed of in a puncture-proof biohazard container. Contaminated instruments are washed and placed in an Ultrasonic cleaners then washed, dried and placed in sealed pouches and sterilised in an autoclave. After sterilised instruments are removed from the autoclave, they are dried and stored in clean cupboards and drawers.

Clinical Staff:

The clinical staff is required to wear a laboratory coat, mask, gloves, protective eyewear, and sometimes hair cover, as part of their personal protective equipment. It is recommended that the staff be fully immunised, to include vaccination against hepatitis B.


After treating a patient

After disinfecting dental unit

After removing contaminated gloves

After using restroom

Before meals

Before treating a patient

Before putting on gloves