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    5 ways to ensure your team practices good infection control

    By following well-established practices, DHCP can minimize the instance of infections.

    Infections are insidious and dangerous, but are also very avoidable. By following some best practices for infection control, dental healthcare personnel (DHCP) can stave off infections.

    Hand hygiene

    Maybe the most important practice to prevent the spread of infection is observing proper hand hygiene.

    According to the Centers For Disease Control, “For routine dental examinations and nonsurgical procedures, use water and plain soap (hand washing) or antimicrobial soap (hand antisepsis) specific for health care settings or use an alcohol-based hand rub.”

    While alcohol-based hand sanitizers are approved, the CDC cautions that they should be used only when the hands are not visibly soiled.

    Their recommendations for performing hand hygiene include:

    • When hands are visibly soiled. 

    • After barehanded touching of instruments, equipment, materials and other objects likely to be contaminated by blood, saliva or respiratory secretions.
    • Before and after treating each patient.
    • Before putting on gloves and again immediately after removing gloves.  

    Related article: 10 questions you need to ask about infection control

    Personal Protective Equipment

    Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a term used for wearable equipment that is designed to protect staff from exposure to or contact with infectious agents. That is, PPE is used to protect wearers from blood, saliva or other potentially infectious materials. PPE includes gloves, facemasks, eyewear, face shields and clothing.

    According to the CDC, precautions include:

    • Use of gloves in situations involving possible contact with blood or body fluids, mucous membranes, non-intact skin (e.g., exposed skin that is chapped, abraded or with dermatitis) or other potentially infectious materials. 

    • Use of protective clothing to protect skin and clothing during procedures or activities where 
contact with blood or body fluids is anticipated.
    • Use of mouth, nose and eye protection during procedures that are likely to generate splashes or sprays of blood or other body fluids.

    Staff should also be trained to select and put on and remove appropriate PPE so that the chance of contamination is minimized.

    As a reminder, the final step after removing and disposing of PPE is performing proper hand hygiene.

    Up next: Practicing cough etiquette ...

    Robert Elsenpeter
    Robert Elsenpeter is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Dental Products Report and Digital Esthetics. He is also the author ...


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