Breaking the chain of infection


  Posted by: Dental Design      28th December 2023

‘Prevention’ is an important topic across many areas of dentistry, including when reducing the spread of infection. In order to protect patients and staff, dental practices must have strict protocols in place, which are continually evaluated to ensure optimal measures are being implemented. Pathogens spread easily in environments like a dental practice: as such, the team must be vigilant against all the possible avenues of infection.

Don’t weaken your defences

If the past few years have taught us anything, it is that infection spreads incredibly quickly and everybody plays a vital part in its prevention. Within the practice, there are several modes of infection transmission: direct contact with bodily fluids; indirect contact with contaminated instruments, surfaces or equipment; infected droplets entering the airway from coughing, sneezing or talking; and airborne transmission due to microorganisms remaining suspended in the airflow for extended periods of time.[i] All practices must follow strict regulation, in addition to continually assessing whether any areas of their infection control need improving. This way, you can rest assured that you are disrupting the chain of infection and that your practice is safe and clean.

It is necessary to review all areas of your decontamination and disinfection processes to ensure there are no weaknesses in your preventative workflow.

Hand hygiene

Addressing the range of threats that present themselves in the practice, and ascertaining where improvements can be made, requires a team effort. Oftentimes, education and reiteration of the basics can be imperative, as they are usually the measures that ensure the greatest protection. For example, hand hygiene is considered the gold standard in preventing the spread of infection: according to the World Health Organization (WHO),[ii]thorough hand hygiene measures prevent up to 50% of avoidable infections acquired during health care delivery, and that includes those which can impact the staff. This simple yet vital step is the first line of defence against infection. Ensuring that both staff and patients are practising better hand hygiene habits should be a top priority. The utilisation of posters and signage can help to prompt both patients and staff to keep their hands clean: providing high-quality soap and hand sanitiser, especially in the bathrooms and waiting rooms are likewise handy reminders.

Surface disinfection

Surfaces are another area where contamination can easily occur and also be transmitted to other objects and personnel: even with meticulous hand hygiene, a contaminated surface can re-contaminate the skin and therefore renew the threat of infection. Research postulates that many species of bacteria can survive for extended periods of time on a range of surfaces: for example, Mycobacterium tuberculosis and C. difficile can survive for months; viruses like astrovirus and hepatitis A for around 2 months; and herpes between 2 hours and 8 weeks.[iii] Survival periods are dependent on the environment and surface; regardless, all surfaces (especially those frequently touched) must be decontaminated regularly. Of course, in addition to decontaminating surfaces in the ‘dirty zone’, such as the dental chair, equipment and cabinetry, surfaces in the waiting/reception area should not escape scrutiny. This is especially true of touchpoints like door handles, chairs, computer keyboards and other surfaces that are routinely in contact with different people.[iv] The literature supports the notion that education, training and targeted microbiological control play a key role in improving cleaning performance and infection prevention.iii

The right products for the job

Together, stringent hand hygiene and surface decontamination are effective at protecting patients and staff from the spread of infection. Alongside continual compliance, you need to use the right products for the job. This should be a carefully considered decision: solutions must be compatible with the variety of surfaces in the practice, and nowadays there is a heightened focus on products that utilise more natural ingredients, with no compromise in protection. Many cleaning products contain chemicals and agents that, while traditionally are effective against pathogens, can be potentially harmful to health. The Citrox Protect range of solutions, distributed by Oraldent, features a non-toxic, non-allergenic, non-corrosive and non-carcinogenic formula based on organic acids and containing CITROX® complex. Independently proven effective against a variety of pathogens, you can rest assured that Citrox Protect products provide peace of mind. The portfolio includes surface disinfectants, hand sanitisers and textile sealing products: a comprehensive range to suit the complex needs of dental practices.

Getting the basics right

Infection control must always be stringent in the dental practice. However, the risk of transmission is always omnipresent so avoiding weak areas in your infection control protocols is essential. With continuous assessment, team training, education and the right products, you can ensure that the transmission of infection is kept to as much a minimum as possible, making your dental practice a consistently safe and clean environment.

For more details, visit, email  or call 01480 862080

Bio – Julia Svec

Julia Svec is the Product Development Manager for Billion Dollar Smile Cosmetics Ltd. She has spent the last ten years working in collaboration with dentists, laboratories and manufacturers in North America, Europe and Asia researching and developing effective and safe non-peroxide teeth-whitening products for professional and home use.  

[i] Upendran, A., Gupta, R. and Geiger, Z. (2023). Dental Infection Control. [online] PubMed. Available at:[Accessed 28 Aug. 2023].

[ii] World Health Organization (2021). Key facts and figures. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 Aug. 2023].

[iii] Kramer, A. and Assadian, O. (2014). Survival of Microorganisms on Inanimate Surfaces. Use of Biocidal Surfaces for Reduction of Healthcare Acquired Infections, [online] pp.7–26. Available at: [Accessed 28 Aug. 2023].

[iv] Schneiderman, M.T. and Cartee, D.L. (2019). Surface Disinfection. Infection Control in the Dental Office, [online] pp.169–191. Available at: [Accessed 30 Aug. 2023].

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