Can I contact infection in a dental clinic?

Centres of health care are also sources of new infections. We generally tend to overlook many aspects of hygiene and disinfection at health care centres— Be it hand hygiene of the dentist and his personnel or the personal protective care measures taken by the staff or the sterilisation and asepsis measure taken by the centre. How important is it to take care of these aspects in a dental treatment centre? Does it affect you as a Patient? Is the dentist or his staff affected by this?

Says Dr Krishna Raj, a practicing Periodontist from Bangalore, who also conducts many seminars and workshops on Sterilisation, disinfection and infection control in dental clinics as a part of his clinic management programmes———“Most of the hospitals or dental clinics have patients coming in with infections. So these centres are a hotbed of infections. The chances of the spread of infections from one patient to another or from the patient to the staff and vice versa is high”.

It then becomes imperative that the dentist takes utmost care to maintain a aseptic environment in the dental clinic. So then, what are the methods of disinfection and the areas that need to be covered for asepsis in a dental surgery. Let’s have a look……

1) Hand Hygiene    

Hand hygiene is one of the most important personal hygiene measures in a clinical set up.  Its san important step in the prevention of spread of infection. The simplest way of hand hygiene is to use a soap ( or antibacterial soap ) with water or an alcohol scrub. Hand hygiene is indicated in the following situations———

Before Patient Contact

Clean your hands before touching the patient or any object in the patient’s vicinity.

Before performing an aseptic procedure

Clean your hands before procedures like an extraction or suture removal or a dressing change.

After there is a risk of body fluid exposure

Clean your hands immediately after an exposure to blood or saliva or other fluids and after removing your gloves.

After Patient Contact

Clean your hands after touching the patient or any object in the vicinity of the patient.

2) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE )

PPE is any specialized clothing, barrier product, or breathing device used to protect workers from serious injuries or illnesses while doing their jobs. Its proper use protects wearers and helps prevent the spread of infection. 

PPE includes

Gloves: to protect hands.

New research has shown that the gloves that healthcare workers use play a significant role in the spread of infection in a clinical setting. The proper removal and disposal of the gloves is important to prevent infection spread.

Gown/aprons: to protect skin and clothing.

Gowns are worn to protect clothes and other exposed body parts like hands. The chances of carrying the infection with your clothing back home is high.

Masks:to prevent airborne/ respiratory infections.

Since the dentists and his health care assistants work in close proximity with the patients, it becomes mandatory to wear mouth masks. Mouthmasks prevent cross contamination of respiratory infections between the dentist and the patient.

To be continued………….