DENTAL INFECTION CONTROL AWARENESS
September is Dental Infection Control Awareness Month, as designated by the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP).
The goal during this campaign is to “to build patient trust, safety, awareness and distribute education of dental infection control.”
Dentists have an ethical and legal responsibility to foster a safe and hygienic office environment for both patients and staff and to follow infection control and prevention standards.
Following are some of the elements of infection control:
1. Hand Hygiene
Moments for Hand Hygiene
Based on substantial evidence, the 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene are designed to minimize the risk of transmission of microorganisms between healthcare worker, the patient, and the environment.
2. Personal Protective Equipment
PPE is used in healthcare settings to create a barrier between healthcare workers and an infectious agent from the patient and to reduce the risk of transmitting micro-organisms from healthcare workers to patient(s). Gloves, aprons, long sleeved gowns, surgical masks, eye goggles, face visors and respirator masks are all examples of PPE that may be worn in the provision of healthcare.
· Gloves should be worn when there may be exposure to blood, bodily fluids, secretions or excretions and when handling contaminated equipment.
· Disposable Plastic Aprons / Gowns are designed to protect uniforms / clothing from moisture / soiling during direct patient care.
· Eye and face protection must be worn when there is risk of splashing body fluids onto mucous membranes e.g. eyes/nose. Eyes can be protected by wearing either goggles or a visor.
· Masks provide barrier protection to the wearer from splashes and droplets to the area of the wearer’s nose, mouth and respiratory tract.
3. Dental water lines
Municipal water contains microorganisms that may be considered safe for drinking water, but could potentially cause patient infections when used during dental procedures. Dental unit waterlines, including those connected to municipal water sources or closed-bottle systems, typically cannot be sterilized; however, they should be routinely cleaned and disinfected. Without proper cleaning and disinfection, waterborne microorganisms can collect in the dental unit waterline and form a biofilm, a layer of microorganisms or bacteria adhered to the surface of the dental unit waterline, that can become dislodged and enter the water stream. Contaminated dental unit waterlines pose a risk of infection to the patient, particularly during surgical procedures by direct exposure of waterborne pathogens and to dental professionals due to inhalation of aerosols.
Implement the use of equipment and procedures such as separate reservoirs, chemical treatment protocols, use of filtration systems, and sterile water delivery systems.
For units using separate water reservoirs, purge the dental unit waterlines each night and whenever units are out of service to prevent stagnant water from settling within the waterlines.
Discharge water and air lines for a minimum of 20–30 seconds after each patient to physically flush out patient material that might have entered the dental water system during treatment.
Monitor waterlines for damage or visible contamination and replace if needed or as directed by the manufacturer.
Be alert to signs that may indicate biofilm formation including musty odour, cloudiness or particulates in the water, and clogging of lines.
4. Instrument sterilization