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5/31/2018 » 6/3/2018
2018 OSAP Annual Conference

FAQ - Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - 2016
 FAQ - Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - 2016



Should hair be up or down when working on a patient? 

The 2003 CDC guidelines for infection control in dentistry does not address hair, beards or facial hair.

Regarding hair in general, Infection Control and Management of Hazardous Materials for the Dental Team states as follows:

One’s hair can become contaminated at work with aerosols and spatter material, but wearing a hair cover is more common during some surgical procedures than during routine dentistry. Routinely washing your hair at home is a good idea. 1

USAF Dental Evaluation & Consultation Service states the following regarding head and shoe cover PPE:

Question: Can you review when we should be wearing head and shoe covers? Also, do head and shoe covers need to be removed when we leave the dental operatory?

Answer: Head and shoe covers are considered to be personal protective equipment (PPE) by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Primary PPE used in oral healthcare settings include gloves, surgical masks, protective eyewear, face shields, and protective clothing. Head and shoe covers are less frequently used types of PPE (see box below), but need to be available to all personnel. According to OSHA, all PPE must be removed before leaving the work area. The definition of "work area" is determined on a case-by-case basis. Since many USAF dental clinics are designed with a suite concept, the work area is sometimes extended beyond the operatory to include the hallway between operatories and a supply room in the suite area. With that being said, PPE should never be worn in offices, in break rooms, at the front desk or in patient waiting areas. 2


USAF Guidelines for Infection Control in Dentistry Head and Shoe Covers

·        The use of head covers is optional, but should be considered when exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials in the form of droplet, spray, and spatter are anticipated. Situations that meet these criteria include, but are not limited to, the following: sonic or ultrasonic scaling; surgical procedures using rotary or ultrasonic instrumentation; and manual decontamination of dental instruments where spray and spatter may be generated.

·        The use of shoe covers is optional, but should be considered when contamination of footwear is anticipated (e.g., surgical procedures where unusually heavy bleeding may be anticipated [e.g., maxillofacial reconstructive surgery, trauma surgery]). 2

You may also find information found in these Google searches to be helpful:

hair, dentistry, infection control  3

hair cover, dentistry  4


1)     Miller CH. Infection Control and Management of Hazardous Materials for the Dental Team, 5th edition. Elsevier/Mosby Publishers. Page 222.

2)     USAF Dental Evaluation & Consultation Service. Personal Protective Equipment.    Accessed on February 1, 2016.

3) Search for hair, dentistry, infection control.     Accessed on February 1, 2016.

4) Search for hair cover, dentistry.  
Accessed on February 1, 2016.





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