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Over 20% of Disinfected Dental Bib Clips Retain Bacteria

Posted on August 21, 2012

OXNARD, CALIF. – AUG. 21, 2012 –Researchers from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in collaboration with those from the Forsyth Institute  have reported that 20% to 30% of dental bib clips studied still harbor bacterial contaminants even after proper disinfection procedures. Rubber-faced metal bib clips were found to retain more bacteria than bib clips made only of metal before disinfection. The study also found that before disinfection, bib clips used during orthodontic procedures had three times the bacterial load of those used during endodontic procedures, suggesting that the nature of dental treatment impacts the number of bacteria present on the clips. The full study titled “Do Bib Clips Pose a Cross-Contamination Risk at the Dental Clinic?” is now available for download at www.duxdental.com/bibclipstudy.

The study is believed to the first peer-reviewed study to be published on bib clip contamination. Four other research reports have found bacterial contamination on dental bib holders, including research conducted by U.S. infection control specialist Dr. John Molinari, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Dentistry Oral Microbiology lab and the University of Witten/Herdecke in Germany.

 “Our study included statistical analysis and, to the best of our knowledge, is the most comprehensive study to date analyzing the bacterial load on dental bib clips before and after disinfection in two specialized clinics. The study found that disinfecting reduced bacterial contamination by 92% but some bacteria remained on several bib clips even after disinfection. Further research is underway to identify the bacterial species in samples from both pre- and post-disinfected bib clips to determine whether or not they retain disease-causing bacteria and if they pose contamination risks,” said Addy Alt-Holland, MSc, PhD, Assistant Professor at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and the lead researcher on the study.

The study analyzed bacterial loads on bib clips from a total of 80 dental bib holders – 40 collected from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine’s endodontics clinic and another 40 collected from the School’s orthodontics clinic. From each chain, both clips that hold the dental bib were sampled before and after practitioners disinfected the bib holder following the school’s disinfection protocol, which requires the holder to be wiped down with an EPA-approved disinfectant wipe, according to the manufacturer’s instruction. Disinfection was found to reduce bacteria on the bib clips, but did not completely eliminate it, leaving 20% to 30% of the bib clips contaminated with bacteria.

“The findings of the study translate into private practice. In a busy practice, you are doing a lot of different procedures and bringing patients in and out quickly. It is time-consuming to properly clean bib clips by autoclave, and spray is not an effective way to disinfect bib clips. If you are using bib holders, make sure the chains and clips are being disinfected after every patient, or consider moving to using disposable bib holders,” said Gerard Kugel, DMD MS, PhD, Professor at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and senior author on the paper. Dr. Kugel is also Associate Dean for Research at Tufts.

A continuation study is already underway by researchers at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and the Forsyth Institute to identify the type of bacteria present on dental bib clips before and after disinfection to help determine if there are cross-contamination risks to patients.

Visit www.duxdental.com/bibclipstudy to download a full transcript of the research paper “Do Bib Clips Pose a Cross-Contamination Risk at the Dental Clinic?”.