Infection Control and the Dental Practice

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Infection Control and the Dental Practice

The purpose of infection control in dental practice is to prevent the transmission of disease-producing agents such as bacteria, viruses and fungi from one patient to another patient, from dental practitioner and dental staff to patients, and from patients to dental practitioner or other dental staff. In dental practice, microorganisms may be inhaled, implanted, ingested, injected, or splashed onto the skin or mucosa. They can spread by direct contact from one person to another, or through indirect contact via instruments and equipment, when the dental staff member’s hands or clothing become contaminated, where patient-care devices are shared between patients, when infectious patients have contact with other patients, or where environmental surfaces are not regularly decontaminated. Infection control focuses on limiting or controlling factors that influence the transmission of infection or that contribute to the spread of microorganisms. The spread of microorganisms can be reduced by:

* understanding the basic principles of infection control; * creating systems that allow infection control procedures to be implemented effectively, and make compliance with them easy * limiting surface contamination by microorganisms;

* adhering to good personal hygiene practices, particularly efficient hand hygiene; * using personal protective equipment;
* using disposable products where appropriate (e.g. paper towels); and * keeping up-to-date regarding specific infectious diseases, particularly newly-evolving infection challenges such as avian flu, H1N1 influenza, and multiple resistant organisms, and how to take precautions against them

Standard precautions are the basic processes of infection control that will minimise the risk of transmission of infection, and include:

* undertaking regular hand hygiene before gloving and after glove removal; * using personal protective barriers such as gloves,...
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