Cliff's Notes

The Business of Dentistry

Infection Control, Not Good …

Over the last several months the local news has been covering the lack of infection control at several large health care facilities. One resulting in numerous deaths and the others just now getting investigated. Being as infection control is one of my strong points let’s do a quick review.

History … Boring to most but we learn from it. The first infection control seminar I produced featured Dr. Robert Runnels from the University of Utah. Dr. Runnels was the developer of the Chemclave, a chemical vapor sterilizer. Without a doubt it was the best form of sterilization available to dentistry but not practical. Dr. Runnels spoke about the need to continually improve your infection control protocol because bacteria and viruses continue to evolve. Today we are fighting things that didn’t exist when Dr. Runnels spoke 30 years ago..

They Didn’t Exist … Politics aside, people, animals and plants can move globally with more ease than in anytime in history. The recent outbreak of measles in New Jersey was spawned by a visit to Israel. A flu outbreak in New York City can easily start a pandemic after a jumbo jet plane ride to London or Paris. Medical science is at constant war but now we have super bugs. Up graded protocol is needed. Lets look at what most offices do and what they should. You don’t know what you don’t know.

Face Masks … Did you ever wonder why some face masks sell for $15.00/box and others for $3.95? There is a difference in the filtration and how long the mask is effective. A top quality face mask loses most of its filtration ability after 45 minutes. After 60 minutes it is just keeping out dust. The lesser quality brands are good for about 20 minutes but unfortunately most people don’t know that, it’s all about price. The CDC recommends Level 3 face masks.

Gloves … Nitrile is a CDC suggestion due to the fact that 10% of the population has some form of latex allergy, that’s one out of every 10 patients that walk into your office. Just like masks, a $2.95 box of gloves can not be compared to a $9.99 box. Where are gloves made? Economy gloves have microscopic pin holes. Microbes can enter through those pin holes plus the glove may tear easily.

Autoclave Pouches … If a pouch with a color strip turns color it does NOT indicate sterile.  Lower quality pouches will not maintain a sterile environment as long as a quality pouch. Think about it, during the dry cycle moisture escapes so if vapor can exit it can also enter. The pouch is just a barrier that will wear-out sitting in a draw.

Disinfectants … There are a lot of them to choose from. The key to surface disinfectants is how they are used. Wipes are the most popular but maybe not the best. For proper disinfecting the liquid should be allowed to dry on the surface, spray bottles and paper towels do a better job. However, wipes are faster and speed up turn-around time. Also, using wipes will not expel as much vapor in the air which is not only a health concern but can also damage dental equipment. I guess it’s a trade-off.

Summery … The average dental office cannot maintain a sterile environment like an operating room, it can only attempt to control the transfer of bacteria and viruses with procedure and protocol. Masks, gloves, and barriers should be changed every time you leave the operatory. An annual infection control review is as important as OSHA & HIPAA training. For my clients I provide a free one our lunch & learn review with CE’s. Please free to contact me at any time with any questions or concerns.


January 6, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment