Five Reasons Why Infection Prevention and Control Are Important

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Infection prevention is a cornerstone of excellence in any dental practice, especially in light of statistics surrounding healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Each year, five to 10 percent of hospitalized patients are affected by HAIs, leading to 99,000 deaths and resulting in $20 billion in healthcare costs. This data underscores the importance of rigorous infection control measures.

As healthcare professionals, upholding patient safety during dental treatments should be priority number one. Here are a few key steps to take to ensure optimal infection control at your dental practice.

Accurately Identify Patients Before Treatments

Accurate patient identification must precede all dental treatments. Healthcare providers should meticulously confirm each patient's identity to ensure personalized care and minimize the risk of cross-infection. Through methods such as medical charting, photographic documentation, and additional identification strategies, you should affirm the patient’s personal details, dental history, and test outcomes, thereby significantly reducing error margins.

Utilize a Sterilizer Checklist

The effective sterilization of dental tools plays a critical role in infection control. A thorough sterilizer checklist includes:

Confirming the make and model of each product utilized in patient care
Reading the sterilization guidelines in the product’s user guide
Checking the manufacturer's website for additional guidance on product sterilization
Following the proper sterilization and usage steps for each product

Attention to detail, such as whether pouches should face paper side up or down in the chamber, using a rack or accessory, or ensuring instruments are loosely packed to promote effective steam flow, are all vital practices. Furthermore, never stacking or piling instruments on top of each other, not exceeding the sterilizer's maximum capacity, and allowing pouches to fully dry to prevent bacteria wicking are crucial steps.

Understand Bacterial Collaborations and Cross-Contamination

Recent advances in biomolecular sequencing and microscopic imaging have shed light on the collaborative nature of microbial communities. This collaboration is due to the physical proximity of bacteria, allowing individual organisms to share energy, genetic information, and metabolic activities, essential for their survival. In the realm of dental healthcare, understanding the resilience and tenacity of the oral cavity’s biosphere, evident in conditions such as gingivitis and periodontitis, is crucial for developing effective infection control strategies.

Cross-contamination and infection routes in healthcare settings include direct contact with body fluids, indirect contact with contaminated items like sharps and instruments, and exposure to airborne infectious particles. These realities underscore the importance of stringent infection control measures.

Maintain Excellent Hand Hygiene

The significance of clean hands in preventing disease transmission cannot be overstated. Here are the best practices to follow:

Wash hands with hot water and antibacterial soap for a minimum of 30 seconds
Keep nails short and free of nail polish
Wear properly sized gloves and follow appropriate glove usage protocol
Refrain from using hand lotions, especially petroleum-based ones, since they can break down glove integrity and cause failures

The integration of these detailed infection control measures, alongside the sobering statistics on HAIs, highlights the imperative role of dental practices in not just treating but actively preventing the spread of infections. As a healthcare provider, your dedication to these principles ensures the safety of your patients and the efficacy of your treatments, marking a commitment to the highest standards of care in the face of evolving healthcare challenges.

Take Special Considerations With Patients Who Have Cirrhosis

Individuals living with cirrhosis encounter unique challenges in maintaining dental health, often experiencing symptoms like dryness and soreness in the mouth, altered taste, and bleeding gums. Given their compromised immune systems, these patients are more susceptible to infections. It is crucial for dental professionals to recognize these challenges and offer comprehensive support to enhance their dental health.

Utilize the Right Products and in the Correct Way

Alcohol Pads After Anesthesia

General anesthesia, while fundamental in dentistry, may lead to tooth pain among other side effects. Addressing patient concerns regarding post-anesthesia tooth discomfort involves preventative measures such as disinfecting the anesthesia site with alcohol prior to administration and providing patients with proper pre-operative and post-operative care instructions.

Disposables

The reusing or cleaning of disposable, single-use items is strictly prohibited as many are not heat-tolerant and can deteriorate, compromising safety. Moreover, the importance of changing the ultrasonic cleaner solution daily—or more frequently if it becomes cloudy or murky—cannot be overstated. Also, the proper soaking of gauze just before wiping down equipment is advised, as research by OSAP and CDC has shown that gram-negative bacteria can survive and multiply when gauze is pre-soaked with other disinfectants.

Richmond offers a wide selection of dental disposables crafted from high-quality, ethically sourced materials:

Braided Cotton Rolls
Wrapped Rolls
Econo Rolls
Reflective Shields
Cotton Pellets
Cotton Nonwoven Sponges
Rayon/Poly Nonwoven Sponges
MultiPly™ Rayon/Poly Nonwoven Sponges
Cotton-Filled Exodontia Sponges
All Gauze Sponges
Cotton Tipped Applicators

Chlorhexidine

Chlorhexidine rinses are a common preventive measure recommended by oral surgeons to either avert or treat infections. The best way to apply this solution is to soak cotton pellets in it and apply it gently to the impacted area. This antiseptic solution is not only pivotal for its broad-spectrum efficacy against a wide array of bacteria but also for its role in fungal and certain viral infections, making it an indispensable tool in dental medicine. Its application extends beyond mere infection control; it serves as a cornerstone in post-operative care, ensuring the optimal healing of surgical sites.

Learn More

Infection control is integral to ensuring patient safety at your dental practice. For more information on our industry-leading infection control solutions, we invite you to get in touch with us today. Here at Richmond Dental & Medical, we’re deeply committed to providing your team with the products needed to keep your patients safe and sound.