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FAQ's Air & Environment

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Dental Infection Control



Top|Practice Safety|Air & Environment


Frequently Asked Questions for Air & Environment

Q Is a nitrous oxide monitor required in the dental operatory?

Q How can one reduce the amount of aerosols in the office's environment?

Q Do ultrasonic scalers present special infection control considerations?

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Q Is a nitrous oxide monitor required in the dental operatory?

A The requirement for nitrous oxide monitoring depends upon the governing OSHA agency. While federal OSHA does not specifically require monitoring, at least one state OSHA agency (Cal/OSHA) requires monitoring. If you are regulated by a state OSHA agency, contact your state OSHA directly to determine specific requirements.(1)

References:
(1) OSHA. State Occupational Safety and Health Plans. Available at http://www.osha.gov/fso/osp/index.html

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Q How can one reduce the amount of aerosols in the office's environment?

A To reduce spatter and aerosol generation during patient treatment, use of a high-volume evacuation when using high-speed handpieces or prophy angles, properly position the patient so aerosols are contained within the oral cavity, use rubber dam to maintain a dry field, and ensure good ventilation in the office.

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Q Do ultrasonic scalers present special infection control considerations?

A Each time you use the ultrasonic scaler, high-speed handpiece, or an air/water syringe, aerosols are created. Aerosols are the invisible particles that can remain airborne for a long while. Aerosolization is one of the main contributors to airborne microorganisms in the operatory. By diminishing aerosolization, you also reduce the microbial load in the air and the risk of cross-contamination or exposure.

To best manage aerosolization:

Use high-volume evacuation (HVE).
Use a dental dam whenever possible.
Use personal protective equipment, such as disposable gowns and face shields (in combination with face mask).
Have each patient use a pre-procedure mouthrinse to reduce the microbial dose load in any aerosol generated.

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