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...

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...

Common Sense Infection Control Tips

Recently, I had the honor of listening to Dr. John A. Molinari, Ph.D. speak on “Health, Safety, Protection & Infection Control in the Dental Practice: Current Status 2019.” I was interested in attending his seminar to assure my office and I am up-to-date on the latest infection control recommendations. Needless to say, I was expecting a long, semi-boring, but...

Revisiting Standard Precautions to be Prepared for COVID-19 Advisories

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. If you have watched TV, listened to the radio,...

Mask Selection: What the Dental Professional Should Know Post-COVID-19

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 original article publication (June 20, 2020), but with the rapid changes occurring, some information may have changed since publication. Please visit coronavirus.gov for the latest news and information on COVID-19. Masks have long...

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...

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...

Ventilation: Safely Control Flow of Bioaerosols in Dental Operatories

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 original article publication (June 28, 2020), but with the rapid changes occurring, some information may have changed since publication. Please visit coronavirus.gov for the latest news and information on COVID-19. The worldwide spread...

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...

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