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Jessie Hammock

June 19, 2019

Infection Control Discussion Paper

DNT 141

“Keepin’ It Clean”

Are you cleaning good enough? To be sure you have disinfected every

surface in your operatory to the best of your ability, I recommend using the quote

“Better to be safe than sorry.” This means you assume everything is dirty.

Thousands of microbes are released into the air during a basic filling, so you

can only imagine where they land. (Yuck!) When breaking down a room, first start

with disposing of all the sharps, such as needles or carpules, into the sharps

container. Next, dispose of anything saturated in blood into the bio-hazardous bin.

Everything else that is disposable should be discarded into the trashcan, such as floss,

gauze, water suction tips, cotton rolls, and barriers.

After everything has been sorted, gather up the instruments, handpieces, and

burs, place them in a headrest cover and lay them in the sink. Wipe down the

assistant’s cabinet top, sides, and handles. I wipe down any materials that need to be

put back up and place them on the cabinet to dry. Get a new wipe to disinfect the

chair, light arm, light handles, and lastly the hoses and nozzles for the assistant.

Change out the wipe and clean the dentist’s tray, hoses, and handpiece attachments.
Grab one more wipe to wipe off cabinets, doors, counters, etc. for an extra


While that is air drying, take the instruments to the sterilization room, clean

them and place them in the ultrasonic. Take off the gloves and walk back to the

operatory. Place a new pair of gloves on and wipe out the sink. Take off those gloves,

glasses, mask, and gown. Place the glasses on a paper towel and dispose of the rest.

Sanitize your hands and place new barriers and suction tips. Set the room up for your

next patient. Then, place a mask and some gloves on so you can sanitize your glasses.

Let those dry before returning to the sterilization room. Place a mask, your

glasses, and some gloves on before rinsing your instruments off. Bag them and place

them by an autoclave to be sterilized. Strip down of my PPEs and sanitize your hands

before going to the sterile side where you can grab any instruments you may need for

your day.

If I have learned anything in dentistry, it is that you can never be too safe. We

should treat every patient kindly and we should help them the best we can, but we

clean up after them like they are infected. Cleaning your operatory goes beyond

protecting our patients; we are also protecting ourselves from microorganisms that

our immune system cannot handle. Always wear PPEs, always disinfect every surface

you can, and always double-check yourself. It’s okay to be nit-picky about it. This

means that you are less likely to expose yourself, your doctor, or your patient to a

foreign microbe.