As a dentist, it's your job to fix any problem your patients have with their teeth, not making the problem worse by adding infection to the list. Find out how you can improve infection control in your dental office.
About Infection Control Regulations in Dentistry
About 25 years ago, the ADA (American Dentist Association) identified HBV (Hepatitis B Virus) as a potential hazard in dentistry. This organization was the first to recommend to dentists that they should implement and follow infection control procedures.
In 1993, ADA, together with CDC (Center for Disease Prevention Control) issued a series of infection control recommendations for dentists. Ever since, these recommendations have been updated several times as the understanding of infection control grows.
Perhaps the biggest consolidation and update of the ADA/CDC infection control recommendations was released in 2003. The new document is important as it brings together several CDC publications regarding infection control in dentistry that were by that moment scattered and includes a thorough review of the science behind infection control in dentistry.
The Role of Autoclave in Infection Control in Dentistry
Infection control in dentistry can be greatly improved with the use of a machine called autoclave, or steam sterilization. This machine uses high pressurized steam to disinfect and sterilize medical and dental instruments and allow them to be reused.
The recommended working conditions for the autoclave are 1.1 to 1.25 bar pressure and 250 to 255 degrees Fahrenheit (121 to 124 degrees Celsius). The program should last at least 15 minutes.
When it comes to packaging dental instruments, in the United States, this has been the norm for more than 5 years. Many regulatory bodies also recommend packaging instruments before autoclaving. Among them are the American Dental Association and Center for Disease Control.
To ensure proper sterilization of dental instruments by an autoclave and prevent cross-infection, only distilled water should be used. Tap water often contains calcium, which may create deposits in the chamber and pipes and render the autoclave nearly useless.
In addition, an autoclave should be inspected on a regular basis, with everything inside wiped with distilled water.
Of course, it goes without saying that, when it comes to infection control in dentistry, it is in good part affected by how much a dentist is responsible. Not wearing latex or nitrile gloves either when touching instruments or when operating on the patient is one of the biggest mistakes a dentist can make.