Infection Control in Dentistry

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The concept of asepsis and its role in the prevention of infection was put forward nearly two centuries ago. Infection control procedure, although was well recognized in general medicine and surgery, but it was delayed in coming to dentistry. Several factors changed the perception of infection control in the dental profession, first was that saliva and blood are the vectors for infections. Infection control is the prevention of spread of microorganisms from their hosts and the removal of microorganisms from objects and surfaces. Infectious diseases in concern in dental practice are viral infection, bacterial infection, fungal infection, parasitic infection. Recent outbreak of COVID 19 pandemic placed dental healthcare professionals in a very high exposure risk category as dentists work in close proximity to the patient’s oral cavity.

Patient in for dentist consultation

All infected patients or patients with infections, cannot be identified on the basis of medical history, physical examination and laboratory examination, Hence the philosophy is to consider all patients as potential infected individuals with pathogenic organisms. It is recommended that a certain basis of infection control procedure must be followed routinely for all patients, referred to as UNIVERSAL PROTECTION. It includes routine hand washing, use of protective barrier techniques such as PPE, gloves, masks, face shield, protective eyewear etc and immunization.

Sterilization of dental instruments using dry or moist heat sterilization methods, disposal of sharp instruments, needles, orthodontic bands, wires etc should be followed. Right segregation and management of bio-medical waste based on WHO protocol are important in controlling the spread of infection. Use of antimicrobial mouth rinse, Rubber dam isolation, minimizing dental aerosols and splatter and minimizing biofilm formation in water lines are the other precautions to be taken by dental professionals.

A Dentist, carries a professional responsibility for implementing effective infection control to protect other patients, and a responsibility for safe practice for all members of the dental team.

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