CDC, OSHA, OSAP, ADHA. These are all organizations that require dental offices to be compliant with infection control regulations. Practices that do not meet these standards are subject to hefty fines and in extreme cases, loss of license. Beyond the punitive damages that can result from noncompliance, improper infection control puts you, your staff and every patient at risk for serious infectious diseases. As dental practitioners, it is your responsibility to maintain operatories that are as clean, sterile and disinfected as possible.
Below are some infection control products that you need to help maintain a safe and compliant office. These products are just the tip of the iceberg, though. It is highly recommended to work directly with your state certified OSHA Consultant to discuss legal requirements and recommendations needed to be compliant and hygienic.
Surface disinfectants are a key piece of infection control in every dental office. Finding a disinfectant that can be used on most non-porous surfaces will make it easy for your staff to clean all areas in each operatory like countertops, trays, chairs, units, lights and so on. Disinfecting your operatory between each patient is not only mandated by OSHA, but also extremely important for killing serious diseases such as MRSA, HIV and TB. Spray your disinfectant directly on to your contaminated surfaces and let sit for several minutes as directed on the label. Wipe dry to reveal a clean surface.
A disinfectant wipe is a great alternative to the spray listed above. It is important to follow use instructions when using wipes, though. Surfaces should be wiped down to remove debris and contaminants and then wiped down with a new wipe a second time to disinfect the surface. If your practice prefers to use both a spray and a wipe, it is critical that you use products with the same chemical makeup. Being consistent with your disinfectants is the safest way to ensure a truly disinfected surface.
When using any chemical disinfectant, precautions should be taken to protect your skin. Wearing utility gloves will provide a barrier between you and the chemicals to keep you safe. Furthermore, utility gloves should be worn in the sterilization center when working with instruments to prevent punctures to the skin.
It goes without saying that all dental office staff should have clean hands. The most important thing to look for in a hand wash is that it provides effectively antimicrobial properties. Secondly, you’ve likely all experienced dry and irritated skin from frequency of washing. A soap with lotions, conditioners and emollients will help to prevent these issues.
Gloves are an obvious dental office need. Available in a huge variety of materials, properties and colors, the glove you choose should fit snugly and not interfere with your natural dexterity. Textured tips for a better grip, powders to prevent sweating, and elasticity are all elements to consider when choosing your gloves. Many offices are also moving away from latex because of patient allergies, and materials like chloroprene and nitrile can be used instead.
The ASTM level of a mask is the level at which the mask filters and absorbs sprays and fluids. Levels 1-3 are most commonly found in a dental practice, with level 1 being low and level 3 being recommended for procedures where heavy to moderate amounts of spray are produced. A maximum filtration mask should be worn when a patient is known to have a communicable disease such as the flu or TB. A mask that fits securely and can be adjusted over the curves of your face will offer the most protection regardless of health of the patient because it will prevent sprays from leaking into gaps between your skin and the mask.
Although not currently an OSHA requirement, eyewear should be worn by both staff and patients. Flying debris can get into eyes, causing damage, infection and disease, but all of these things are easily prevented with eye protection. Purchasing glasses in fun patterns and colors can help to make your patients more agreeable to wearing them as well.
Many offices are turning toward using pouches and wraps when sterilizing instruments in an autoclave or sterilizer. Pouches allow you to keep all the instruments needed for each procedure together, and can easily be grabbed and brought from sterilization directly into the operatory ready for use. Doing so can provide peace of mind for the patient as well because they see that the instruments about to be used on them are clean. A pouch with internal and external indicators will tell you that the appropriate temperatures have been reached both inside and outside the pouch for sterilization to occur.
Although your evacuation system water lines are not visibly dirty, we guarantee that the inside of this tubing is. Cleaning these lines daily is needed to keep your systems running correctly, clear clogs, and prevent backflows. A portable dispenser can be brought from op to op for evac line cleaning. Connect your evac tubing to the nozzles in the bucket, turn your evac on and let the cleaning solution filter through your water lines.
An evacuation system line cleaner should be used rather than just water in your dispenser to flush out debris on a daily basis. A cleaner will dissolve organic matter such as saliva and tissue to keep your lines free of grime and provide optimal suction. A non-foaming formula is often easier to work with and one with a fresh scent can help make your operatory feel even cleaner.