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dental decontamination

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Surface decontamination in the dental surgery

By Blog

It’s no secret that surface decontamination is key to protecting patients and staff in the dental practice. But with so many products on the market, it can be difficult to know which ones to use and how to use them properly.

In this blog post, we’ll look specifically at a number of key areas of surface decontamination, which when treated with the right product(s), at the right intervals, with the right contact time will offer you one of the most effective ways to mitigate the potential spread of infection through surface decontamination in your practice.

So, how do you ensure that the risk of infection is minimised and the highest standards of disinfection achieved?

Well, as you’d expect with as wide a ranging and complex subject as infection control, unfortunately, there isn’t a single, simple answer!

There are many areas and workflows within the dental practice which require infection control processes to be regularly and comprehensively employed, from the reprocessing of dental instruments, to all the surfaces in clinical areas, including the dental chair and diagnostic equipment, to the basic hand hygiene of each and every person entering your dental environment.

Cleaning or disinfection?

Before we get our teeth into how to keep those pesky bugs at bay, let’s get one, often confused, fact put to bed: the difference between cleaning and disinfection…

Although often terms used in unison, they are not the same thing.

Cleaning is the removal of dirt and debris, usually in the presence of a detergent. In a dental environment this could well include bodily fluids released as the result of dental treatments, like blood, tissue, tooth and bone fragments or pus.

Disinfection is the inactivation or killing of microorganisms on a surface, using a disinfectant agent which is known to have antimicrobial properties.

Disinfection can only occur on a clean surface, so it is vital that the cleaning step takes place prior to disinfection (although, there are, of course, combination products available, which combine both steps).

So, now that’s sorted, let’s concentrate on disinfection. Surface disinfection to be precise.

We will leave instrument reprocessing and decontamination for another day.

 

Decontamination and disinfection of surfaces in a dental practice

Even by focussing just on surface decontamination within a dental practice, there are still several different areas to consider, all of which should be addressed individually and specifically.

In this blog we’ll take a look at:

·  Surface decontamination in the dental surgery

·  Decontamination of the dental chair

·  Hand Hygiene for patients, visitors and staff

Whichever area you’re looking at, we’ve got bags of experience in at Blueprint Dental, so we’re always on hand (excuse the pun!) to help you out with which product you need for which application, to strike that important balance between efficacy and material compatibility.

A little more on that too…

Efficacy v Material Compatability 

There needs to be a balance between the ability of the disinfectant to inactivate micro-organisms and its effect on the environment around it. It needs to be safe to use in the presence of humans, not leave potentially toxic residues around after use and leave the surfaces and equipment on which it is used unharmed.

Are you familiar with disinfectant rotation?

Disinfectant rotation is an important part of infection control in dental practices. It is the crucial process of regularly switching between different types of disinfectants in order to prevent the development of microbial resistance. Many disinfectant ranges will offer two alternatives, which can be safely rotated, often with colour coded labelling for clarity and ease of use.

Quaternary Ammonium compounds (often referred to as ‘Quats’) are effective disinfectants widely used as part of a rotational infection control plan in a dental setting.  

Disinfection of dental surfaces

So, now we know that infection control of surfaces is a critical activity in every dental practice and it’s important to make sure that all surfaces in the practice are clean and decontaminated regularly with products which are compatible with the surface and to rotate, if necessary, to reduce the risk of microbial resistance.

But, what about the different types of surface disinfectants available? 

Surface disinfectants can be split broadly into non-alcohol based and alcohol-based agents.

The method of applying the disinfectant usually correlates with the size of the area, with larger areas tending to be disinfected using spray-applied agents and smaller areas more likely to be treated with wipes.

Again material compatibility is of prime importance here.

Non-alcohol based disinfectants have excellent material compatibility and can be used is a wide variety of surfaces in the practice, but especially lend themselves to the leather or synthetic upholstery of the dental chair, hoses and handles on the treatment centre and any areas composed of plexi-glass or acrylic, like the dental light.

Dental chairs and treatment centres are a classic example here and are discussed in their own section below.

Non-alcoholic disinfectants have a short action time and when applied properly to a surface will continue to provide a long-lasting effect against the re-establishment of airborne bacteria and viruses.

 

Alcohol-based surface disinfectants are also widely available, cost-effective and have a broad spectrum of microbiological action. Again they can be sprayed directly onto the surface or applied using an impregnated wipe. Just make sure the material is compatible with alcohol before going ahead!

Is your dental chair decontaminated properly?

The dental chair is often the main touch point for patients during their visit, presenting the opportunity both to contaminate and be contaminated.

Disinfecting the chair between patients is a sure way of protecting your patients and staff, reducing the risk of cross-contamination, but with the possibility of many patients taking a seat in the chair each day, it is also important to ensure the upholstery and any other parts which are disinfected are not damaged by harsh chemicals constantly being used on their surfaces.

A non-alcohol based disinfectant is ideal here and provides excellent material compatibility which, as well as disinfecting, helps to maximise the longevity of the chair’s upholstery.

Hand Hygiene in the dental practice

Hand hygiene is one of the most important ways to protect yourself and your patients

Our hands are constantly coming into contact with micro-organisms, some of which have pathogenic capabilities.

Many scientific studies prove that hands are THE primary transmission path for pathogens.

Hand disinfection is therefore considered crucial for the prevention of nosocomial infections. In Europe alone, up to 5 million patients in hospitals and other healthcare facilities are infected annually with dangerous pathogens. A major reason for this is inadequate or even lack of hand hygiene. Comprehensive hand hygiene can reduce the rate of “acquired” infections by up to 40%.

But proper hand hygiene should also help to prevent skin problems and maintain the natural protective function of the skin. So, be sure to take this into consideration when selecting hand hygiene products for your practice.

As a result hand hygiene products often include a range of products including hand lotions and creams, as well as disinfectants themselves to ensure the natural balance of the skin in maintained. Alternatively, hand disinfectants may achieve this by incorporating additional soothing or lubricating ingredients into their formulation.

The method of dispensing may differ according to the location in the practice and the user of the hand hygiene products. For example, product in a public area of the practice intended primarily for patients and non-clinical staff may be a wall dispenser with automatic dosing, whereas a more specialist surgical hand wash with a broader range of efficacy for hand and forearm preparation prior to surgery would be in an area only accessible to clinical staff and bottle-based.

So, we have seen that regular and robust decontamination processes using the right product for the right surface should be right at the heart of every dental surgery’s infection prevention policy and procedures. When best practices are adopted the risk of cross-contamination will be minimised and the safety of patients, staff and visitors alike maximised.

We’d love to help you ensure you have the highest possible standards of hygiene in your practice and we’re pretty confident that we can sort you out with the right surface disinfection product for each and every area in your practice

You can get in touch to discuss further using the form below….

 

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Maximising hygiene and disinfection behind the scenes in the dental surgery

By Blog

Dental professionals are in a unique position to prevent the spread of infection.

The very nature of invasive dental work means there is an increased risk of infection and biological contamination. In addition to contamination caused by touching surfaces and equipment, dental procedures themselves can also generate contamination, both in the form of airborne aerosols and micro-organisms entering waste systems whilst remaining viable.

These factors create a constant need to maintain high standards of hygiene even ‘behind the scenes’ to protect patients, staff and visitors. It is these perhaps unseen areas we will focus on in this blog post.

So, how do you ensure that the highest standards of disinfection are achieved?

As you’d expect with a subject as complex as infection prevention, the answer is not simple!

One size doesn’t fit all.

There are many areas and workflows within the dental practice which require infection control processes to be regularly and comprehensively employed, from the reprocessing of dental instruments, to all the surfaces in clinical areas, including the dental chair and diagnostic equipment, to the basic hand hygiene of each and every person entering your dental environment.

Cleaning or disinfection?

Before we get our teeth into how to keep those pesky bugs at bay, let’s get one, often confused, fact put to bed: the difference between cleaning and disinfection…

Although often terms used in unison, they are not the same thing.

Cleaning is the removal of dirt and debris, usually in the presence of a detergent. In a dental environment this could well include bodily fluids released as the result of dental treatments, like blood, tissue, tooth and bone fragments or pus.

Disinfection is the inactivation or killing of micro-organisms on a surface, using a disinfectant agent which is known to have antimicrobial properties.

Disinfection can only occur on a clean surface, so it is vital that the cleaning step takes place prior to disinfection (although, there are, of course, combination products available, which combine both steps).

So, now that’s sorted, let’s concentrate on disinfection. We’re just going to look at three areas here:

 

  • Preventing contamination in dental water lines
  • Removing contamination from suctions lines and amalgam separators
  • Disinfection of dental Impressions

We’ll leave instrument reprocessing and decontamination for another day, as it’s a big topic in its own right.

Decontamination and disinfection in the dental practice

But, whichever area you’re looking at, rest assured that we’ve got bags of experience in at Blueprint Dental and are always here to help you out with which product you need for which application, to strike that important balance between efficacy and material compatibility.

A little more on that too…

Efficacy v Material Compatibility

There needs to be a balance between the ability of the disinfectant to inactivate micro-organisms and its effect on the environment around it. It needs to be safe to use in the presence of humans, not leave potentially toxic residues around after use and leave the surfaces and equipment on which it is used unharmed.

Disinfection of non patient-facing areas of the dental practice

Infection control is a critical activity in every dental practice. It’s important to make sure that all areas of the practice are clean and decontaminated regularly. This includes areas and equipment which is not necessarily patient facing, but nonetheless could present a serious biohazard if not incorporated into your decon processes.

The importance of ensuring dental water lines are decontaminated regularly

You’ve probably heard that dental water lines need to be decontaminated on a regular basis.

But what does that actually mean?

Left to their own devices there are a number of potential hazards which can be associated with water lines in and around the dental treatment centre. In this article, we’ll concentrate on the removal and prevention of biofilms and biological decontamination, but process water quality and the prevention of limescale deposits are also areas which need addressing. Again, perhaps another blog post for another day.

A broad spectrum anti-microbial agent, such as Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) offers long lasting protection against the build up of a biofilm and microbial contamination in water lines, whether these are associated with hand piece operation and cooling or bottle systems and spittoon operation. Some will even act as a limescale inhibitor too, which is an added benefit.

Some disinfectants are specifically tuned for continuous dosing of water lines in specific manufacturer’s treatment centres, some are used at regular interval according to your own decontamination protocols and others can be used as a biofilm removal agent. These are often slightly more concentrated solutions used in situations where a biofilm has built up within the water lines, following some maintenance procedures or before the treatment centre is first commissioned for patient use.

What about contamination in suction lines and amalgam separators?

Equipment which creates contamination as a result of particles and biological debris from the patient poses an immediate and constant contamination threat if left untreated.M2

Suction lines and amalgam separators should be decontaminated on an at least daily basis with a broad spectrum disinfectant effective against bacteria, fungi, viruses and mycoplasma (tuberculosis).

A word here also about disinfectant rotation…

As with many anti-microbial treatments, both inside and outside of the patient, consistent dosing with just one product can lead to the emergence of microbial resistance, which in turn increases the risk of contamination and/or decreased efficacy of your chosen disinfectant. For this reason, it is considered best practice to rotate the products used for disinfecting. For example on a weekly rotational basis. This will significantly reduce the risk of microbial resistance to the products used. Often the two rotational products will differ in pH. Look out for a manufacturer who can provide you will both products which are clearly labelled to show which rotational product is which in your regime.

These areas are also prone to the build up of odours, so a product with an integral deodoriser is also advantageous, as is one with enzymatic properties to break down proteinaceous material removed from the patient.

That said, care should also be taken to ensure that any disinfectant used in these areas and then discharged to drain are environmentally friendly and do not cause ecological damage after their release.

Some products used in this area can also be used to decontaminate spittoons, although specialist products are also available for this purpose.

Disinfecting dental impressions

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Dental impressions remain an important part of many patient procedures still carried out using non-digital technologies. Every day, dentists take impressions to create dental prosthetics such as crowns and bridges. However, these impressions can also be a breeding ground for micro-organisms if not disinfected correctly. In order to ensure the safety of patients, staff and technicians at the dental laboratory, it is important to properly disinfect these impressions before they are sent out for fabrication.

Ideally find yourself a ready-to-use solution with a short action time, which can be used on alginates, silicones and poly-ether rubber, as well as the impression trays themselves. That way you’ll be able to disinfect a wide range prosthetics, worn dentures and dental impressions.

Choose a formaldehyde-free and phenol-free product which is bactericidal, fungicidal, virucidal and, ideally, tuberculocidal too.

So, in summary, it’s clear to see that maintaining consistent and robust disinfection protocols are of utmost importance for all dental professionals. In this post, we’ve explored areas which are often not in direct patient contact, but which still form a vital part of the practice’s overall infection prevention and decontamination routines. Not only is this crucial for patient safety and that of your staff, but it also helps maintain the quality, reputation and longevity of your practice as a whole.

We’d love to help you ensure you have the highest possible standards of hygiene in your practice and we’re pretty confident that we can sort you out with the right disinfection product for the right application.

You can get in touch to discuss further using the form below….

 

  • Take a moment to review our privacy policy.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.