What’s going on with surface disinfection in dental settings?


An interesting new article reviews the history and state-of-the-art for surface disinfection in dentistry settings. Historically, aerosols and sprays were the most common approaches to the delivery of disinfectants in dentistry. However, due to occupational exposure concerns, disinfectant wipes are quickly becoming the most common method for surface disinfection in dental settings.

The article spans space and time, beginning with acidic rinses used by ancient Egyptians in 3000 BC, and ending with a review of current disinfection approaches. The article provides a helpful list of chemicals currently used for surface disinfection in dentistry settings.  Quaternary-ammonium based disinfectants the most common disinfectant, and wipes are becoming the most common mode of delivery. The article also highlights some of the unique challenges of dentistry settings, with a need for local sterilisation of some items and the associated surface hygiene requirements, x-ray equipment, rapid service user throughput, and limited availability of support staff.

Finally, the article provides some good practice recommendations for surface hygiene in dental settings. These include the need for a local infection control and environmental hygiene policy, a recommendation in favour of using disinfectant wipes, and recommendations around best-practice use of wipes in dental settings along with a visualisation of common high-touch surfaces to target.

Dentistry often includes invasive procedures and infections can be serious and difficult to treat. So it’s vital that the dental environment is kept clean and safe to prevent the transmission of microorganisms that can cause infections.

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Celebrating world hand hygiene day

As we come towards 5th May, it’s time to celebrate global hand hygiene day! This year, the theme for the WHO’s campaign is ‘Clean care for all – it’s in your hands’.

The WHO team in Geneva have published editorials in a range of journals (including one here in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology) outlining the details of the campaign. The campaign includes individual calls to action for different staff groups. This is a good message: regardless of your professional background or role, hand hygiene is in your hands! The campaign and also launches a Global Survey on Hand Hygiene (details here).

The idea of ‘Clean care for all’ is broader than just hand hygiene – and encompasses the cleaning and disinfection of surfaces and medical devices in what is a ‘multi-modal’ approach to infection prevention. The transmission of pathogenic micro-organisms between patients occurs through a complex network of vectors and fomites. If we are to prevent the transmission of pathogens that cause HCAI in hospitals, it’s no good just focussing on hand hygiene – otherwise the organisms will ‘choose’ an alternative route (see the Diagram below)!

   Diagram: Dynamic transmission routes of microorganisms that can cause HCAI

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