Home Infection Control

Infection Control

How Clean Are the Waterlines in Your Operatory?

Patients come to your dental office because they are looking to improve or maintain their health. Unfortunately, news stories too often emphasize the opposite effect. A patient becomes sick or even hospitalized, apparently because they visited a dental office. One recent report that made national headlines highlighted the tragic story of a seven-year-old girl, who had to have four...

5 Infection Control Mistakes to Avoid Part 1

Patient safety and infection control are top priorities for hygienists. Surprisingly, there are many dental offices that do not adhere to the latest safety and infection control protocols. Some dental professionals continue to use outdated or ineffective infection control methods because they have always used them, while other dental professionals simply skip over required infection control training. Below are five...

Why Hygienists Should NEVER Treat Patients with Active Oral Herpes

As a dedicated and meticulous dental hygienist, you may find yourself noticing small details that are unnoticed or dismissed by most people. So when a patient presents for her prophy with an active herpes simplex lesion on her lip (herpes labialis), your antennae immediately go up. As you mentally determine the best course of action to take, you calmly begin...

The Potential Use of Environmentally Friendly PPE in Dental Hygiene

Alternative solutions for environmentally friendly personal protective equipment (PPE) are needed in order to reduce the amount of medical waste created by dental offices. This can start with dental hygienists who have always had a public health advocacy role since the profession's inception. Environmental health and safety are included within that realm of public health for dental hygienists. The American...

Vulnerable: When Shortcuts, Haste Threaten a Hygienist’s Safety

We do a lot to ensure our patients are protected while in the dental office. From infection control, safe work practices, and HIPAA compliance, we work very hard to protect our patients. However, when it comes to our own safety, we may tend to compromise. While focusing on the importance of protection for patients, we often forget that our...

Suction Backflow: How Dental Hygienists Can Prevent Cross-contamination

Many of us drink through a straw. When you take a long, delicious slurp, have you ever noticed that, once you release your lips from the straw, that the remaining liquid trapped inside the cylinder tubing backflows into the cup in which it rests? I have witnessed the process multiple times and even watched my children play insipidly with...

Dental Appliances: Tips to Ensuring Patient Safety while Ensuring Thorough Cleaning

The risk associated with cross-contamination while cleaning dental appliances is a topic that has garnered more attention in recent years. During a dental hygiene appointment, we are tasked with thoroughly cleaning our patients’ night guards, orthodontic appliances, and whitening trays at intermittent times throughout the day. While the hygiene appointment is a balancing act, and we are often watching the...

OSHA’s Surprise Visits: Tips for Dental Offices to be Prepared

Prior to the pandemic, during a normal hectic workday at my office, the local component of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) dropped in for a surprise visit. I think it is safe to say that this is one of the most dreaded moments by dental professionals in a dental office. While many offices go their entire business...

Dentistry’s Aerosols: Giving the Dangerous Bugs the Attention they Deserve

Dental professionals must be aware of the potential risks involved within the dental clinic, educate themselves to prevent contamination, and protect all persons within their environment. The production of aerosols and splatter in dentistry is one of the biggest concerns about the spread of infection among both dental professionals and their patients. With over 700 species of bacteria,1 the mouth...

The Coronavirus Threat: How Should Dental Offices Be Prepared?

Editor's Note: Information about COVID-19 is changing on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. We have made every attempt to ensure this article is up-to-date at the time of publication, but with the rapid changes occurring, some information may have changed since publication. Please visit https://www.coronavirus.gov/ for the latest news and information on COVID-19. Declared a “public health emergency of international concern” on...

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