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Stricter Disinfection Urged as Study Shows Bacterial Presence in Supposedly Disinfected Dental Bib Clips

Tue, Jul 16, 2013
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Study Shows Bacterial Presence in Supposedly Disinfected Dental Bib Clips. We must be wary of these tools the next time we visit our dentist's clinic.
Stricter Disinfection Urged as Study Shows Bacterial Presence in Supposedly Disinfected Dental Bib Clips

Stricter Disinfection Urged as Study Shows Bacterial Presence in Supposedly Disinfected Dental Bib Clips

We have every reason to be wary of those scary-looking dental tools the next time we drop by our dentist’s clinic.  It appears that the standard disinfection protocol being practiced in dental clinics may not be enough to eliminate all disease-causing microbes from dental implements.

Researchers from Tufts University School of Medicine and the Forsyth Institute documented that dental bib clips still harbored bacteria even after having undergone routine disinfection. The bacteria were found to be coming either from the patient, the clinician, the environment or from all three.

Dental bib clips are dental accessories used to attach the patient bib around the patient’s neck. The study entitled “Comprehensive Analysis of Aerobic and Anaerobic Bacteria Found on Dental Bib Clips at Hygiene Clinic,” analyzed the clips of 20 dental bib holders that have been used at the hygiene clinic. The dental bib clips were analyzed for bacterial contamination before and after being used in dental procedures.

Dental bib clips which have just been used were called post-treatment clips while those which have been subjected to standard disinfection were called post-disinfection clips. Both post-treatment and post-disinfection dental bib clips were analyzed for the presence of bacterial contaminants.

The disinfection method used to sterilize the dental bib clips was the standard disinfection protocol being used in hygiene clinics—cleaning with alcohol-containing wipes. It was demonstrated that although a great majority of the bacteria found in post-treatment dental bib clips were eliminated by routine disinfection protocol, there are still some viable bacteria left on the post-disinfection dental bib clips.

Here are the other significant findings of the study:

Post-treatment dental bib clips (after being used in dental treatments)

Immediately after being used in dental procedures, 65% of the dental bib clips tested positive for oral bacteria. This is to be expected as dental bib clips easily get contaminated with oral bacteria from patients. What is alarming is that these bacteria are causative factors of chronic and refractory periodontitis.

Post-disinfection dental bib clips (after being disinfected using standard disinfection protocol)

Forty percent or 8 of the 20 dental bib clips still contained one or more aerobic bacteria post-disinfection. Aerobic bacteria are those which can grow in the presence of oxygen.

Seventy percent or 14 of the 20 dental bib clips still harbored one or more anaerobic bacteria which are generally more virulent than aerobic bacteria and can cause more serious diseases.

Of the 14 contaminated dental bib clips, 3 tested positive for Streptococcus bacteria which are commonly found in the oral cavity and upper portion of the respiratory tract, 5 tested positive for bacteria of the Staphylococcus, Prevotella and Neisseria species and 9 still harbored anaerobic bacteria which are commonly found in the skin.

 The results of the study raised several points for concern. Dr. Addy Alt-Holland, lead researcher of the study and Assistant Professor at the Endodontics Department of the Tufts University School of Medicine said, “The study of bib clips from the hygiene clinic demonstrates that with the current disinfection protocol, specific aerobic and anaerobic bacteria can remain viable on the surfaces of bib clips immediately after disinfection.”

To calm down fears, Dr. Alt-Holland made it clear that the study did not demonstrate actual transmission of bacteria from the dental bib clips to the patients or the clinician. Nevertheless, he admitted that one cannot totally eliminate the possibility of transmission especially in cases where the patient or clinician is in a susceptible state—minor or elderly and those having physical problems.

The following are the ways by which bacteria from patients can find their way to dental bib clips and possibly transmitted to succeeding patients or the clinician himself.

  1. ·         Patient’s saliva or saliva sprays during dental treatments could bring oral bacteria from the patient down to the dental bib clips.
  2. ·         The clinician’s gloves, which are logically contaminated with oral bacteria from patient, could come in contact with the dental bib clips.
  3. ·         The patient could also transfer the common skin bacteria Staphylococcus if he touches the dental bib clips.

To prevent cross-contamination, researchers recommend that a more thorough disinfection method be used for dental bib clips. Better yet, they suggest that disposable dental bib clips be used to do away with tedious and largely ineffective disinfection procedures.

 

 

   



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