From the Editor
Gerard Kugel, DMD, MS, PhD
This month the Inside Dentistry cover feature presentation reviews the manner in which the infection control guidelines for dental healthcare settings have changed how dental products, materials, and equipment are designed and manufactured in order to facilitate compliance with safety guidelines. Most importantly, however, it emphasizes the collective need for dental professionals (dentists, assistants, and hygienists) to take a proactive role in ensuring that routine infection control precautions are maintained in the dental office at all times for their own and their patients’ safety and well being.
Keeping the Best Interest of Others in Mind. As my colleagues point out in this month’s feature, when it comes to infection control in the dental practice, we’re doing nothing less than looking out for the best interest of others. If there is any uncertainty about how to approach infection control in your office where your staff or your patients are concerned, consider this: would you do something differently if you knew your mother, father, sister, brother, son, wife, husband, or daughter were going to be treated in one of your operatories with any of your instruments or equipment? If you would do something differently, then perhaps it’s time to give ethical consideration to the manner in which infection control standards are handled in the practice. Dental professionals should ensure that they are doing things the way they’d want them to be done for themselves or for their loved ones. If they’re not, they should re-evaluate their programs and practices.
Combat Complacency. It has been some time since the dental profession has been affected by disease transmission, such as the case of a hepatitis B transmission in a dental practice in New Mexico several years ago. With such a relatively positive track record of few disease transmissions (at least that are recorded), it can be easy to become complacent in our infection control and sterilization efforts. Now is the time for vigilance.
Seek Out More Information. Now, more than ever, with emerging diseases and strains of viruses and bacteria resistant to medication, it is important for dental professionals to stay abreast of infection control standards, products, and innovations to provide the highest level of protection to our patients and staff. As my colleagues who were interviewed in this month’s feature have emphasized, it’s the responsibility of every dentist to protect not only their patients but their staff also by ensuring that they provide or make available opportunities for the education and training that they collectively need for proper infection control and safety. This includes dental assistants—for whom continuing education is not a requirement in most states, and also long-term employees, some of whom may have a difficult time with procedural changes. Visit the OSAP Web site for updates and conference information (www.osap.org). When you see an article about infection control in our journal, please take a few moments to read it. Even though the issue is important, it is unfortunately fighting for the time and attention of all of us who are overwhelmed with information.
We hope you enjoy this issue and find that it helps clarify for you some of the issues and requirements surrounding infection control in the dental practice. We also hope that it enables you to better motivate your staff—and yourself—when it comes to complying with the CDC Guidelines and forthcoming recommendations for safety, sterilization, and infection control. Please send us your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. As I emphasize each month, your thoughts, opinions, and reactions motivate us to continually improve our clinical content and coverage of the topics impacting our profession. Thank you for reading and for your continued support.
With warm regards,
Gerard Kugel, DMD, MS, PhD
Associate Dean for Research
Tufts University School of Dental Medicine
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