CDC unveils new guidelines and checklist regarding infection prevention practices in dental settings


The CDC releases an important update to the “Infection Prevention Bible” from 2003

The CDC unveiled the “Summary of Infection Prevention Practices in Dental Settings: Basic Expectations for Safe Care” on Tuesday, March 29. The two new resources released by the CDC include the summary, which outlines basic infection prevention expectations for safe care in all dental settings, and an Infection Prevention Checklist.

“This is not a replacement for the 2003 guidelines, but rather a repackaging of the most important elements presented in that document,” Dr. Jennifer Cleveland, Dental Officer and Epidemiologist in the Division of Oral Health at the CDC said.

The enhancements to the 2003 guidelines also include two new elements of standard precautions for cough etiquette and safe injection practices. They didn’t update the guidelines further because in their review of literature they didn’t see sufficient scientific evidence present to do so.

The tools were developed using the guidelines of many of the other divisions at the CDC. They were necessary as many of the transmissions the CDC had investigated since 2003 were a result of a breach in infection prevention protocols.

“The summary is intended to be a user-friendly compilation of the most important facts in the 2003 Recommendation and emphasizes the importance of standard precautions. The checklist can be used to ensure that dental care has the appropriate infection prevention policies in practice including appropriate training and education of dental healthcare personnel on infection prevention practices,” Dr. Cleveland said.

The Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention’s (OSAP) Chairman of the Board, Dr. John O’Keefe explained that OSAP is helping spread the word about the new resources. He described them as a new resource that summarizes and complements the CDC’s seminal 2003 Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Healthcare Settings, which he described as, “The Bible for Infection control.”

“The whole emphasis is a move to create user-friendly, practical resources. OSAP and CDC are working closely together on this to bring infection control, patient safety, and education out to where it is needed,” Dr. O’Keefe said. 

RELATED: Dr. O'Keefe and more experts discuss infection control's hot topics

The CDC also urges all practices to designate an individual to serve as the Infection Prevention Coordinator to ensure compliance with the CDC’s basic prevention guidelines, from training to equipment acquisition, to enforcing standard operating procedures. The checklist is designed to evaluate compliance with infection prevention, which includes the administrative policies of the practice as well as the observation of personnel and patient care.

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OSAP is a global organization and the world’ s leading provider of education that supports safe dental visits. In support of the implementation of the updated CDC guidelines, OSAP created additional resources for clinician’s designed to help dental teams comply with the CDC guidelines in easy-to-use guides, including:

From Policy to Practice: OSAP's Interactive Guide to the CDC Guidelines, a free online course with seven modules that break the guidelines down into easily understood principles.

CDC Guidelines:  From Policy to Practice by OSAP, a self-study workbook that walks users through the CDC guidelines. Each chapter contains practical how-to instructions, charts and checklists, pictures and captions, answers to common questions, and guidance for making sound clinical judgments. 

OSHA & CDC Guidelines: Interact Training System, a program that combines requirements for OSHA annual training with the CDC Guidelines.

OSAP Dental Infection Control Educators' & Trainers' Toolkit, a coaching workbook delivered via CD designed to assist with the development, planning, and promotion of successful, high-impact infection control and safety programs and presentations.

“The more that we can disseminate this information to the better, even outside of the dental health community. The more people that can have this the better and the sooner, the better,” explained Dr. Cleveland.

HOT READ: Is dentistry prepared for another Ebola?

The new tools from the CDC are available at The OSAP guides can be found at The CDC also welcomes comments regarding infection control tools and policies at

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