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policies and practices designed to prevent the spread of infectious agents

Infection Control

Who is exposed to blood and other potentially infectious materials, such as saliva

the dental team

What is the goal of infection control?

to break the chain of infection and minimize the risks of disease transmission

the conditions that must be present for infection to occur

Chain of Infection

What are the four links in the chain of infection?

1.) Virulence
2.) Number of microorganisms
3.) susceptible host
4.) portal of entry

refers to the degree of strength of an organism in its ability to cause disease


to cause disease, a high enough number of pathogenic microbes must be present to overwhelm the body's defense

Number of Microorganisms

a person who is unable to resist infection by a particular apthogen

Susceptible host

means of the pathogen to enter the body

Portal of entry

enters through the mouth or nose

Airborne Pathogen

must have access to the blood supply though a break in the skin, a cut, or even a bite

Blood-borne pathogens

What are four types of infections?


an infection of short duration that is often severe

Acute Infection

an infection of long duration

Chronic Infection

a persistent infection in which symptoms "come and go"

Latent Infection

infections caused by normally nonpathogenic organisms in individuals whose resistance to disease is decreased

Opportunistic Infection

occurs through person to person contact

Disease Transmission

occurs when microbes first are transmitted to an object or surface then are transferred to another person who touches that object or surface

Indirect transmission

also known as a droplet infection, refers to the spread of disease through droplets of moisture that contain bacteria or viruses

Airborne Transmission

contamination often produced by the high speed handpiece, ultrasonic cleaner, air/water syringe during dental procedures

Aerosols, spray, and spatter

occurs when blood borne pathogens are transferred through the skin

Parenteral transmission

occurs through direct contact or indirect contact with blood or other bodily fluids that are infectious

Blood-borne transmission

transmission through contaminated food that has not been cooked or refrigerated properly and by water that has been contaminated by human or animal fecal matter

Food and Water

If proper sanitation procedures such as hand washing are not followed after using the restroom or changing a diaper

Fecal-Oral Transmission

responsible for providing resistance to communicable diseases

The Immune System

Immunity that is present at birth

Inherited Immunity

immunity that is developed over a person's lifetime

Acquired immunity

occurs when a person has previously contracted a disease and recovered

Naturally acquired immunity

antibodies are introduced into the body by artificial means through immunization or vaccination

artificially acquired immunity

five ways of disease transmission in the dental office.

-patient to dental team
-dental team to patient
-patient to patient
-dental office to community
-community to dental office

usually occurs through direct contact, indirect contact, or droplet infection

patient to dental team

this form of transmission usually occurs if the dental team member has lesions or cuts on his or her hands, as well as through droplet infection

dental team to patient

this type of transmission occurs when contaminated instruments used on one patient are then used on another patient. Only one case of this has been reported in dentistry

patient to patient

this type of transmission occurs when contaminated items are sent to a dental lab

dental office to community

this type of transmission occurs when contaminated municipal water supply enters the office and is in the dental unit water lines

community to dental office

What are two federal agencies that play an important role in infection control in dentistry?


What agency is a regulatory agency and has a Blood Borne Pathogen standard that is the most important law in dentistry?


What requires employers to protect their employees from exposure to blood and other potentially infectious material in the workplace?

OSHA's Blood-borne Pathogen Standard

Each dental office must have a written plan that clearly states how that office complies with the BBP standard. What is this plan called?

Exposure Control Plan

What is based on the concept that all human blood and body fluids are treated as if known to be infected with a blood-borne disease?

Universal Precautions

What is a standard of care that is designed to protect healthcare providers from pathogens that can be spread by blood or any other body fluid?

Standard Precautions

What is any reasonably anticipated skin, eye, mucous membrane contact, or percutaneous injury with blood or any other infectious material?

Occupational Exposure

What category of occupational exposure do dental assistants fall under?

Category I

What vaccination is the employer required to offer within 10 days of employment?

Hepatitis B

What is crucial to prevent the spread of disease?


waterless antiseptic agents, such as gels, foams, and rinses

Alcohol Based Hand Rubs

What should the alcohol content of alcohol based hand rubs be?

60 to 95 percent

What does PPE include?

Protective Clothing
Protective Eyewear
Treatment Gloves
Utility Gloves

What is the 7 step process for instrument sterilization?


What are the different classifications of waste?

General Waste
Hazardous Waste
Contaminated Waste
Infectious Waste
Blood and blood soaked materials
Pathogenic waste

What type of waste includes soft tissue and extracted teeth?

Pathogenic Waste

What type of waste presents danger to humans or the environment?

Hazardous Waste

What type of waste has been in contact with blood or other bodily fluids?

Contaminated Waste

What type of waste is capable of transmitting an infectious disease?

Infectious Waste (Biohazard)

What should you do while handling waste?

wear the appropriate PPE

Surface that includes foors, walls, and sinks

Housekeeping Surfaces

What surfaces can be directly contaminated by direct spray, or spatter during dental procedures or by contact with dental personnel's gloved hands?

Clinical Contact Surfaces

What are three categories of clinical contact surfaces?

Splash, Spatter, Droplet

surfaces that are directly touched and contaminated during treatment

Touch Surfaces

surfaces that are not directly touched but often become touched by contaminated instruments

Transfer Surfaces

surfaces do not actually contact members of the dental team or contaminated instruments or supplies

Splash, spatter, droplet

What are the two methods of dealing with surface contamination?

Surface Barriers
Cleaning and Disinfecting

intended to kill disease causing organisms that remain on the surface after precleaning. DOES NOT KILL SPORES


What level of disinfection would be used for a semicritical item?

High Level

What type of disinfection is used to for noncritical items?

Intermediate Leverl

What level of disinfection is used on surfaces not contaminated with blood?

Low Level

What disinfectants are tuberculocidal?

hospital disinfectants registered with the EPA

used as skin antiseptics and surface disinfectants


What is an example of greener infection control?

digital radiography

What is one of the most important responsibilities of the dental assistant?

to process contaminated instruments

instrument that touches bone or penetrates soft tissue

Critical Instrument

Instrument that touches mucous membranes

semicritical instrument

instrument that only come in contact with the skin

noncritical instrument

What are the two areas that the sterilization area is broken down into?

Contaminated and Clean

What are three ways that instruments can be pre-cleaned?

ultrasonic cleaning, instrument washing, and hand scrubbing

used to loosen and remove debris from instruments using sound waves

Ultrasonic Cleaning

work similar to household dishwashers

Instrument Washing Machins

What does sterilization kill?

ALL forms of microbes including spores

uses steam under pressure

Steam Autoclave

In an autoclave what kills the microbes?

The heat

refers to sterilizing unpackaged instruments with the use of short exposure times

Flash Sterilization

Works similar to a stea autoclave system except a chemical combination is used to create the vapor for sterilization instead of water

Unsaturated Chemical Vapor Steriization

operate by heating up air and transferring the heat from the air to the instruments

Dry Heat Sterilizers

sterilizer similar to an oven

Static Air

Rapid heat transfer circulates hot air throughout the chamber at a high velocity

Forced Air

used to determine id sterilization is occuring

Sterilization Monitoring

external and identify if the packs have been exposed to a certain temperature

Process Indicators

internal and respond to temperature, pressure, and time

Process intergrators

What is the ONLY way to determine whether or not sterilization has occurred and confirm that bacteria and spores have been killed?

Biological Monitoring

What does it mean when the biological monitoring test comes back positive?

Sterilization has failed

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