CDC Brings Attention to Dental Infection Control and Prevention Practices

By on 9:15 AM

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Oral Health has contributed an article to Medscape (free account required for access) discussing the prevention of disease transmission in dental settings.

The article notes that, while rare, transmission of infectious agents between patients and dental healthcare personnel (DHCP) in dental settings do occur. Specifically, CDC references published reports describing the transmission of hepatitis B and hepatitis C in dental settings and a report on a 2015 outbreak of Mycobacterium abscessus infection at a pediatric dentistry practice.

The column then provides tips and advice for dental disease transmission prevention on topics that include:
  • Administering of local anesthesia
  • Use of multi-dose vials
  • Cleaning and heat-sterilizing of handpieces
  • Sterilizer monitoring
  • Water standards

CDC references additional resources to aid in dental infection prevention, such as its "Summary of Infection Prevention Practices in Dental Settings: Basic Expectations for Safe Care" 2016 report. This is a summary guide of basic infection prevention recommendations for all dental healthcare settings, including traditional settings such as private dental practices, dental clinics, dental schools and educational programs (including dental assisting, dental hygiene, and laboratory). In addition, the recommendations include nontraditional settings that often use portable dental equipment such as clinics held in schools for sealant and fluoride placement and other sites for humanitarian dental missions.

CDC also references its "Infection Prevention Checklist for Dental Settings." CDC notes the checklist should be used to ensure the dental healthcare setting has appropriate infection prevention policies and practices in place, including appropriate training and education of DHCP on infection prevention practices. Systematic assessment of  personnel compliance with the expected infection prevention practices is a critical step in following guidelines. Feedback  to DHCP regarding performance as well as documentation of compliance is important.

As the CDC states in the Medscape report, "Infection prevention should be a priority in all clinical dental care settings. A survey of U.S. dentists looked into implementation of four recommended infection prevention recommendations (have an infection control coordinator in the dental practice, maintain dental unit water quality, document percutaneous injuries, and use safe medical devices such as safer syringes and scalpels). [The survey] found that only 25% of practices had routinely implemented three or four of these recommendations."

Need assistance with dental infection control program development, improvement and/or education? Contact ICCS, a leading national provider of infection control and prevention services for dental offices and oral surgery centers.

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC, is the founder and president of Infection Control Consulting Services LLC (ICCS). Phenelle has more than 30 years' experience providing customized comprehensive infection control and prevention services to healthcare facilities nationwide. Her services focus on assisting hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dental office and oral surgery practices, doctor's offices, nursing homes and other organizations with implementing and maintaining an infection control program that: complies with The Joint Commission, AAAHC, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) and other regulatory agencies; respond to situations of noncompliance; and improve the processes for reducing risk.