Infection Control and Sterilization for Dental Facility
Infection control is a mandatory procedure in any medical and dental setup to ensure the wellbeing and safety of patients, attendants, and dental staff. To prevent infectious microorganisms from being transmitted to patients, medical, dental, and surgical tools must be disinfected and sterilized. Because sterilization of all patient-care equipment is not required, a health-care policy must determine if cleaning, disinfection, or sterilization is required, based mostly on the products’ intended use.
Infection control in any healthcare setting prevents or slows the spread of infections. In order to avoid the transmission of infections in healthcare environments, two levels of precautions are recommended:
All healthcare providers should follow standard precautions. They’re based on a risk assessment and employ common sense techniques and personal protective equipment to safeguard healthcare providers from infection and prevent infection from spreading from one patient to the next.
For patients with known or suspected infections, transmission-based precautions are implemented in addition to Standard Precautions.
Control on the transmission
Control on the transmission-based infections can be achieved by using the methods of sterilization and disinfection procedures. Sterilization is a technique that uses physical or chemical ways to eradicate or eliminate all kinds of microbial life in healthcare facilities. The main sterilizing agents employed in healthcare facilities are steam under pressure, dry heat, EtO gas, hydrogen peroxide gas plasma, and liquid chemicals. Whereas, disinfection is the process of removing fully or fraction of pathogenic germs from inanimate items, with the exception of bacterial spores. Objects are typically disinfected in healthcare settings using liquid chemicals or moist pasteurization.
Factors that affect the efficacy of disinfection and sterilization
- Prior cleaning of the object
- Organic and inorganic load present
- Type and level of microbial contamination
- Concentration of and exposure time to the germicide
- Physical nature of the object (e.g., crevices, hinges, and lumens)
- Presence of biofilms
- Temperature and pH of the disinfection process
Infection control and sterilization in dental settings
The role of dental health care professionals is crucial in reducing the spread of various infections and microbes within dental settings. The rotary nature of dental tools and equipment generates aerosols and spatter containing salivary and blood particles. These aerosols and spatter of saliva and blood may contain pathogens injurious to individuals.
To minimize the risk of microbial and viral transmission, some basic but important infection control measures can be followed in dental clinics.
- Avoid overlapping and overbooking of the patient appointments to limit rush.
- Disinfection of the waiting areas is crucial.
- Proper disinfection should be followed for the dental operatory before and after every patient.
- All frequent touchable areas should be wrapped.
- Patient dental chair, clinician chair, assistant chair, delivery trays, dental lights, cabinets, and doorknobs, handles, countertops, and all the touchable areas should be cleaned and disinfected after every use.
- Limit the use of rotary instruments if not necessary and use high evacuation suctions to minimize aerosols and spatter in the environment. The use of rubber dams will be beneficial in such cases
- All instruments and equipment must be cleaned and sterilized according to the manufacturer’s instructions for use.
- Proper PPE should be worn by dental professionals while treatment including N95 mask or respirators, protective eye wears/shields, gowns, and headcovers, and gloves. Protective eye wears should be provided to the patients during treatments.
- All the administrative staff supports and follows the set guidelines for safety purposes.
- All dental health care providers (clinical or non-clinical), should be mindful of when and how to use PPE.
Patients and health care professionals both have a responsibility to collaborate for safer and better outcomes. Patients have a responsibility to openly and honestly communicate their medical and dental problems without fear of being condemned. Patients should understand that the goal of dental therapy is to keep them safe. All dental health care professionals are properly trained and qualified to make informed decisions, plan, and safely execute patient-centered treatments.