Infection Control in a Dental Clinic
Infection control is an integral practice in dental clinics since both patients and the dental healthcare personnel can be exposed to disease-inducing microorganisms. The most common viruses caused by such microorganisms include cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2, HIV, staphylococci, mycobacterium tuberculosis, and streptococci (Pogrel, Khanberg, & Andersson, 2014). The main ways of infection introduction include direct contact with blood and oral fluids, the use of contaminated tools, contact with nasal droppers and inhalation of airborne microorganisms. Given that the provision of dental care involves several individuals, the need to prevent infection presents varied implications. This paper intends to review the importance of infection control in a dental clinic by evaluating its implications to the clients, students, supervising hygienist and dentist, as well as to the hygiene program and the college.
Implications to Clients
One of the fundamental implications of hygiene control for the clients is to ensure that detailed information regarding their medical history is provided. Most cases of infection transmission in the dental setting occur when a favorable environment is created, and hence understanding the health status of individual clients can facilitate the establishment of appropriate prevention measures (Little, Falace, Miller, & Rhodus, 2012). For example, when the client communicates about their existing medical history, the dentist can plan for the corresponding medication that could be required to prevent the occurrence of any infection (Pogrel et al., 2014). The clients are also required to ensure that they comply with any prescribed regiment for infection control as this will reduce the risk of infection for them as well as the dental team.
For the infection control measures to be effective, the clients also need to undergo dental education. During the classes, the clients have a responsibility to participate fully while at the same time seeking clarification for the different issues that are raised. Additionally, the clients are required to implement different infection prevention measures shared during the classes.
Implications to Students
One of the significant aspects of infection control in a dental setting for the students lies in the necessity to be familiarized with standard practices in this field, which are critical in helping the students to comprehend the principles behind infection control in a dental clinic. Such knowledge will enable the students to adhere to basic hygiene guidelines during their clinical activities, to contribute towards the infection control practices through being in a position to identify any inconsistencies or risks, and to facilitate the implementation of appropriate measures to prevent infection (Pogrel et al., 2014).
The importance of infection prevention in a dental setting also relates to the use of protective gear. Students are expected to be in protective clothing whenever they are in a dental clinic to prevent infection transmission to the patients and other members of the team. It is also critical for the students to understand the role of each type of gear. For example, infection control can only be effective if the students use the right gear for the correct procedure, such as gloves when handling blood, and surgical wear during related procedures.
Given the importance of infection control in a dental clinic, it is paramount that students get the required immunizations in order to reduce the risk of infection transmission between the students and the patients as well as the other members of the team. Immunization programs provide a cost-effective and efficient model of infection control. In order to ensure that they comply with the existing immunization requirements, the students have a responsibility to familiarize themselves with current federal and state regulations on dental issues.
Implications to Supervising Hygienist and Dentist
A supervising hygienist plays an integral role in the infection prevention process in a dental clinic. For example, the hygienist is required to offer dental education to the patients regarding their role in the prevention of infection and to administer prophylactic medication as prescribed by the dentist (Pogrel et al., 2014). As a specialist responsible for reviewing dental histories and carrying out dental examinations, the hygienist has an obligation to ensure the team members are notified about at-risk patients to facilitate the establishment of necessary prevention measures.
As a senior member of a dental team, a dentist has an integral role to play in infection control within the clinic. The dentist is required to evaluate and guide the development of the infection prevention policies within the clinic as well as oversee their implementation. When playing an administrative role, the dentist is required to ensure that all materials and protective clothing are available within the clinic. The dentist is also required to prescribe prophylactic medication for at-risk patients and to continually engage in research to enhance the infection prevention operations (Little et al., 2012).
Implications to Dental Hygiene Program and College
Based on the importance of infection control in the dental setting, there are some implications for the dental hygiene program and the college concerned. Despite taking all the necessary precautions, infections and exposures still occur (Pogrel et al., 2014). As a result, the program needs to have an established post-exposure management protocol that ensures the prevention of infection outspread once the first case has occurred. Some of the measures should include the establishment of isolation units for students and team members who are exposed to prevent infection transmission to other parties.
The dental hygiene program and college are also mandated to ensure infection prevention through the establishment of a protocol that outlines the restrictions to access the clinics based on existing or emerging medical conditions. For example, the institution should have discussions with students and other team members who may have existing chronic conditions regarding their ability to safely execute their duties (Pogrel et al., 2014). Students and other dental personnel who have existing medical conditions may pose a risk to the patients and other team members since they can easily get infected and transmit the virus to other team members during interactive activities. Other than this, the program needs to monitor any form of allergic reactions that could arise from the use of protective gear such as gloves and face masks, and develop alternative measures for the team members who are affected.
Little, J. W., Falace, D., Miller, C., & Rhodus, N. L. (2012). Dental management of the medically compromised patient. New York: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Pogrel, M., Khanberg, K., Andersson, L. (2014). Essentials of oral and maxillofacial surgery. New Jersey: Wiley Blackwell.