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Chapter 15 SUMMARY

KeY terms
Antiseptic: A substance that inhibits the growth of bacteria. This term is often used to describe
handwashing or wound-cleansing procedures.
Asepsis: The absence of pathogens, or disease-causing microorganisms. This term is often used to
describe procedures that prevent infection (e.g., aseptic technique).
Bloodborne pathogens: Pathogens present in blood that cause diseases in humans.
Disinfect:Use a chemical or physical procedure to inhibit or destroy pathogens. Highly resistant
bacterial and mycotic (fungal) spores are not killed during disinfection procedures.
Disinfection:The act of disinfecting.
Exposure incident: A specific incident that involves contact with blood or other potentially
infectious materials and that results from procedures performed by the dental professional.
Infectious waste: Waste that consists of blood, blood products, contaminated sharps, or other
microbiologic products.
Occupational exposure: Contact with blood or other infectious materials that involves the skin,
eye, or mucous membranes and that results from procedures performed by the dental professional.
Parenteral exposure: Exposure to blood or other infectious materials that results from piercing or
puncturing the skin barrier (e.g., a needle-stick injury results in parenteral exposure).
Personal protective equipment (PPE): Includes protective attire, gloves, mask, and eyewear.
Sharps: Any objects that can penetrate the skin, including, but not limited to, needles and scalpels.
Standard precautions: Measures that include a standard of care designed to protect health care
personnel and patients from pathogens that can be spread by blood or any other body fluid,
excretion, or secretion.
Sterilize:The use of a physical or chemical procedure to destroy all pathogens, including highly resistant
bacteria and mycotic spores.
Sterilization:The act of sterilizing
Important you have to know examples on each of
these:
Critical instruments: Instruments that are used to penetrate soft tissue or bone are considered
criticaland must be sterilized after each use. Examples include forceps, scalpels, bone chisels, scalers,
and surgical burs. In dental radiography, no critical instruments are used.
Semicritical instruments: Instruments that contact but do not penetrate soft tissue or bone are
classified as semicritical. These devices must also be sterilized after each use. If the instrument can be
damaged by heat and sterilization is not feasible, high-level disinfection is required. Beam alignment
devices are an example of a semicritical instrument used in dental radiography.
Noncritical instruments: Instruments or devices that do not come in contact with mucous membranes
are considered noncritical. Because little risk of transmitting infection from noncritical devices exists,
intermediatelevel or low-level infection techniques are required for their care between patients.
Examples in dental radiography include the position-indicating device (PID) of the dental x-ray
tubehead, the exposure button, the x-ray control panel, and the lead apron

To protect themselves as well as their patients, dental professionals must understand and use
infection control protocols. The primary purpose of infection control procedures is to prevent the
transmission of infectious diseases.
Disease transmission involves pathogens, or microorganisms that are capable of causing disease.
In dentistry, disease transmission may occur as a result of one of the following:
Direct contact with pathogens in saliva, blood, respiratory secretions, or lesions
Indirect contact with contaminated objects or instruments
Direct contact with airborne contaminants present in spatter or aerosols or oral and respiratory
fluids
For infection to occur, three conditions must be present:
(1) susceptible host,
(2) pathogen with sufficient infectivity and numbers to cause infection, and
(3) portal of entry for pathogen to infect host.

The CDCs Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health Care Settings (2003)
outlines specific infection control measures that pertain to dentistry, including PPE, hand hygiene, and
sterilization and disinfection of instruments.
The recommended infection control practices are applicable to all settings in which dental
treatment is provided.
The same infection control procedures must be used for each patient, with no exceptions and no extra
precautions for select patients.
Infection control procedures before x-ray exposure include the preparation of
(1) the treatment area (x-ray machine, dental chair, work area, lead apron),
(2) the supplies and equipment (film, digital sensors, beam alignment devices, other items),
(3) the patient (chair and headrest adjustment, lead apron), and
(4) the radiographer (handwashing, gloves).
Infection control practices during exposure involve
(1)drying and collecting exposed receptors,
(2) reassembly of beam alignment devices, and
(3) dealing with interruptions properly.
Infection control procedures after exposure include
(1) disposal of contaminated items,
(2) removal of beam alignment devices, handwashing, lead apron removal, and
(3) surface disinfection.
Infection control practices during processing involve
film transport, darkroom supplies, film handling with and without barrier envelopes, disinfection of
the darkroom, and daylight loaders.