| FAQ - Disinfection - Archived Through 2012
What is the better choice for controlling surface contamination: barriers or between-patient disinfection?
As an alternative to between-patient disinfection, environmental surfaces may be covered and protected with fluid-resistant, disposable barriers that are removed, discarded, and replaced after each patient visit.
Whether a practice uses protective barriers or surface disinfection is a personal choice, but many experts advocate the use of surface barriers, especially for surfaces that are difficult to clean (for example, light handles and control panels). Barriers also are the more time-saving option. If barriers are not used, exposed environmental surfaces that are contaminated with blood or saliva (through contact or spatter) must be first cleaned and then disinfected after every patient. If the barriers remain intact, surface cleaning and disinfection need only be performed at the end of each clinic day. If a barrier becomes compromised during patient care, however, the surface beneath it must be cleaned and disinfected before a clean barrier is placed.
Most dental practices utilize a combination of barriers and between-patient cleaning and disinfection to maintain operatory asepsis and minimize the potential for cross-contamination.