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The importance of infection control in dentistry

The increase in the number of transmissible diseases has led to global concern and has affected the way dentistry is practiced. Dentistry is involved in treatment that includes contact with blood, mucosa or blood-contaminated body fluids, including saliva. It is essential to use proper universal precautions such as treatment gloves, masks, protective eyewear, overgarments, plastic barriers to protect equipment, proper use of disinfectants and sterilization to prevent cross infection.

These measures can prevent the spread of diseases from one patient to another and can also stop transmission from patient to dentist and vice-versa. The dental clinic must not act as a point for the spread of diseases. There have been numerous instances of the spread of diseases like Hepatitis B from patient to patient via dental clinics.

Some of the highly infectious diseases like Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV can be stopped from transmission by using proper infection control measures. Immunization for Hepatitis B, A and regular blood tests for HIV and Hepatitis antibodies is also important for dental health care workers.

Dentists must implement engineering controls to reduce the production of contaminated spatter, mists and aerosols. Safe handling of contaminated needles and other sharp items, along with proper disposal, is essential. Infection control measures to be undertaken in the presence of an exposure must be trained to all staff. Every practice must have its own infection control policy. Proper management of dental waste must also be undertaken to prevent contamination of water and food. Proper precautions while handling needles and sharp object must be undertaken to prevent accidents.

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