Infection control and prevention
B Y OLIVIA WANN, JD, RDA
However, in analyzing workflow for practices, I’ve noticed that a common
challenge for dental employees in many practices is wearing utility gloves.
Often, the dental assistant or hygienist transfers the contaminated instruments to the sterilization area while wearing the same patient exam
gloves worn during the procedure. This is not in compliance.
According to the CDC, puncture- and chemical-resistant heavy-duty
utility gloves should be used for instrument cleaning and decontamination
procedures to minimize the risk of sharps injuries and provide greater
protection during the handling of disinfectants.
1 This raises the question:
When exactly do we wear the utility gloves?
The Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP) has provided clarification:
• Following treatment of the patient, change into utility gloves
• With the utility gloves in place, isolate and remove the instruments.
• Transport the instruments to the sterilization area in a leak-proof
container with solid sides and a solid bottom.
• Remove and dispose of barriers.
• Remove the waste.
• Then wash the utility gloves to decontaminate them.
• Next, clean and disinfect instruments while wearing the utility
• When this is completed, wash your hands, and don patient exam
In 2016, the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) published the “Summary of Infection
Prevention Practices in Dental Settings: Basic Expectations for Safe
Care.” This helpful new guide summarizes the infection control guidelines published in 2003.
Let’s get back to basics. It all
starts with training. Perhaps you’ve
heard a dental team member make
this statement when you try to
provide training on infection pre-
vention and control: “Yeah, we
know how to do all that. It’s the
same thing every year.”
According to CDC, the docu-
mented transmission of bloodborne
pathogens highlights the need for
1 We never
graduate from learning and never
stop benefitting from helpful re-
minders. Download the Summary
and review it carefully with your
staff, including the “Infection Pre-
vention Checklist.” Training should
take place as part of the new-hire
process and thereafter at least
As a consultant conducting assessments in hundreds of dental
offices, I see common challenges.
The words we read don’t exactly
jump off the page and materialize
into easy, breezy compliance. Compare your working world with the
examples that follow. See how well
your practice is doing in the world
of infection prevention and
PPE and utility gloves—One
of the elements to assess is if dental
employees receive training on proper selection and use of personal
protective equipment (PPE). This
sounds pretty basic, doesn’t it?