Top 5 Actions To Prevent a Dental Office Infectious Outbreak


Infection prevention is critical in health care. The infectious outbreak of a bloodborne pathogen, like Hepatitis C, is a risk for professionals and patientsDental offices that follow appropriate daily guidelines for infection prevention will do their part to prevent such outbreaks.

What infection control protocols should be in place?

Many practices deal with blood or other bodily fluids. It is critical to have protocols and practices to ensure the dental staff prevents the spread of bloodborne pathogens. The fundamental elements of infection prevention are:

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE protects your staff against health or safety risks due to blood, body fluids, and other hazardous materials. Based on Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) regulations, employers must provide appropriate PPE for employees. They also must make sure PPE is disposable. If it’s reusable, it must be cleaned, laundered, repaired, and stored.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines on protective gear removal changed in 2014 after two nurses contracted Ebola. This protocol is currently employed by Doctors Without Borders. Offices that follow the CDC guidelines are implementing vital infection prevention procedures.

For more information, follow the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP) Safest Dental Visit Guide and specifically the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Tuberculocidal Disinfectant Spray

OSHA’s Bloodborne pathogens standard at 29 CFR 1910.1030 requires that items and surfaces contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) be immediately decontaminated with an appropriate disinfectant. This also must happen at the end of the work shift if the surface may have become contaminated since the last cleaning.

While soap and water may be appropriate for general cleaning purposes, it is not appropriate for decontamination of blood or OPIM. EPA-registered tuberculocidal disinfectants are appropriate for this purpose.

Under OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard (29 CFR 1910.1200), employers must maintain material safety data sheets (MSDSs), provide training and the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for all chemicals that pose a health hazard to their employees.

OSHA sharps handling Best Management Practices (BMPs)

OSHA estimates that 5.6 million healthcare workers are at risk of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Each year, an estimated 384,000 skin puncture injuries are sustained from needles and other sharp devices. That’s more than 1,000 each day!

As a dental professional, you want to minimize risk of injury to your staff and liability to your practice through OSHA-recommended BMPs for sharps handling and disposal. Use our helpful infographic to reinforce best practices.

Manufacturer-recommended sterilization of dental equipment

Dental staffs should follow ADA recommendations and CDC guidelines for proper dental equipment sterilization and OSAP FAQs regarding sterilization of instruments & equipment. Follow CDC guidelines for proper testing of sterilizers using biological monitoring strips on a weekly basis.

Third party spore testing and reporting services

Dental offices benefit from incorporating weekly mail-in biological monitoring services into their practice. Not only is it recommended by the CDC, but it uses outside test labs to properly test and provide third-party documentation of proper sterilization of dental equipment.  Many dental practices stay organized through a solution that includes online reporting (such as BIOlogical by HealthFirst). By accessing your online account, you can produce compliance documentation and sterility reports to provide required documentation.

HealthFirst can help with infection control practices

HealthFirst’s readiness advisors can help you implement the best solutions to help prevent infectious outbreaks. We offer:

Call us at 800-331-1984, or email us.

Bryan is the Product Manager for the Environmental and Infection Control product lines at HealthFirst. Bryan comes with an extensive background in the waste industry and was instrumental in the development of HealthFirst's Sharps Management, Medical Waste Mangement, Amalgam and Pharmaceutical Waste Recovery product lines.


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