Dental infection prevention and control is a team effort between the Dentist, Dental Assistant, Receptionist and Practice Manager. Although all dental staff are involved, the responsibility ultimately rests with the dental practitioner themselves to ensure that infection control procedures meet the Australian Dental Association (ADA) requirements and are followed by all employees within their dental practice.
The Dental Board of Australia Guidelines on Infection Control provides some helpful advice for dental professionals looking to provide a safer clinical environment for their patients and staff. All dental surgeries should keep a copy of this document, plus their own infection control policy on hand for the easy reference of their teams.
Remembering and implementing all the dental infection control measures can feel overwhelming for many Dental professionals. One way to make this easier is the use of procedure packs, such as PrimeOn Sterile Dental Packs.
Tips for effective dental infection control
Maintaining the best dental infection control standards takes a combination of planning, organisation, training and teamwork. Here are some ways that you can implement standard precautions that create the most optimal aseptic environment within your practice.
Good personal hygiene and regular cleaning
Hand hygiene is important for proper dental care. Prior to treating a patient, Dentists and Dental Assistants should thoroughly wash their hands and then apply hand sanitiser before donning their surgical gloves. After removing your exam gloves at the end of the session, you’ll need to wash your hands once more as your gloves will likely be coated in saliva and other bodily fluids.
Conduct a full clean of your surgery before and after every session without exception. Spray all surfaces with disinfectant and then wipe down with a damp towel or anti-bacterial wipes. If using a towel, always place it in the laundry basket after each use.
Don’t forget to spray all door handles as well as the arm rests of the dental chair itself as microorganisms from the patient’s hands are left on these surfaces. Offer hand sanitiser to each patient when they enter your clinic.
Encourage proper cough and sneezing etiquette within your clinic at all times. If a patient has a sudden urge to sneeze or cough, request they grab a tissue to cover their nose and mouth. Instruct them to put the tissue in the bin and to then wash their hands. If there is no tissue available, tell them to cough or sneeze into their bent elbow or upper arm.
Place hygiene reminder signs with these tips on the walls of your clinic where they can be easily viewed by your patients.
Dental infection control supplies must be kept away from the dentist’s chair
For convenience, many dentists like to keep their consumables on a trolley, bench or tray close to the dentist’s chair when they are working. However, these items can become contaminated with droplets of saliva, mucous and blood during surgery if they are too close.
As a general rule, keep all open boxes of gloves, gauze swabs and other medical supplies at least two metres from the dentist’s chair at all times. Otherwise, consider storing these boxes in a special drawer or cupboard.
Use disposable items the right way
Single-use medical supplies are one of the essential elements of good dental infection control within the dental office. Exam gloves, gauze swabs, disposable masks and plastic sheets are all excellent ways to prevent the spread of microorganisms within a clinical environment. However, any single-use supplies must be disposed of after each use in the bin assigned for contaminated waste.
Some dental equipment requires considerable time and effort to clean. Often a full clean following a treatment session is simply not feasible. Therefore, these items may be covered with disposable plastic sheets to protect them against contamination during consultations.
When disposing of contaminated sharps such as syringes, always ensure the item is completely inserted into the yellow hazardous waste bin in your clinic. Sharp objects poking through the openings of these bins can pose an occupational danger for whoever empties them. In order to prevent hazardous waste bins from overflowing with dangerous sharps, make sure they are emptied on a regular basis.
Important methods of dental infection control
Classic dental infection control measures preferred by many dentists include High Volume Evacuators (HVE), pre-procedural rinsing and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). HVEs are commonly used during dental procedures to stop aerosols from a patient’s open mouth from escaping into the air. This cylinder-shaped instrument works like a vacuum, sucking away most of the aerosols in the mouth before they become airborne.
Pre-procedural mouth rinsing is designed to eliminate most of the bacteria in a patient’s mouth prior to their treatment. At the start of the session, the patient swirls a mouthful of this fluid around for several seconds, before releasing it into the dentist’s sink. This dental infection control method is believed to make aerosols less contagious.
Dental professionals should wear PPE equipment including exam gloves, surgical glasses and gowns or aprons when treating patients and cleaning dental instruments. PPE equipment can protect them from being exposed to bodily fluids and infectious agents when treating patients.
Dental infection control training for staff
Make sure your dental staff receive training in clinical hygiene as well as any other industry training that may be required for their continuing professional development. Hold regular meetings to discuss workplace safety matters and ensure that a logbook is kept to record any staff and patient injuries that may happen from time to time.
Simpler infection control with PrimeOn Sterile Dental Packs
A simpler approach to dental infection control, these all-in-one dental packs give you all of your essential supplies in one neat pack. How does this help?
- Simplifies infection control protocol
- Makes your procedure easier and faster
- Can reduce risk of cross contamination / infection in the dental setting
- Suitable for procedures from wisdom teeth removal, dental crown and root canal surgery
- Helps protect your patients from infectious disease
If you are a dental professional who would like an easier alternative to purchasing dental infection control supplies in your dental clinic, click here to find out more about the PrimeOn range of Sterile Dental Packs.