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FAQ - Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - 2015
 FAQ - Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - 2015




The regulation for cleaning and disinfecting a dental treatment room is to wear utility gloves. Are there any studies that show what happens if exam gloves are used? I had a client say she went to a course where the presenter said there are studies that show disinfectant can actually penetrate the exam gloves and get into the blood stream?

Ask OSAP can provide you with some general information on this topic.

As the CDC states on its Division of Oral Health – Infection Control section of its website, non-Medical gloves [i.e., utility gloves] should be used for housekeeping procedures (e.g., cleaning and disinfection), handling contaminated sharps or chemicals and not for use during patient care. 1


Are gloves affected by dental materials?

Exposure to glutaraldehyde, hydrogen peroxide, and alcohol preparations may weaken latex, vinyl, nitrile, and other synthetic glove materials. Other chemicals associated with dental materials that may weaken gloves include acrylic monomer, chloroform, orange solvent, eugenol, cavity varnish, acid etch, and dimethacrylates. Because of the diverse selection of dental materials on the market, glove users should consult glove manufacturer about the compatibility of glove material with various chemicals.

Are there different types of gloves?

Yes, there are. The type of glove used should be based upon the type of procedure to be performed (e.g., surgical vs. nonsurgical, housekeeping procedures). Medical-grade nonsterile examination gloves and sterile surgical gloves are medical devices regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). General-purpose utility gloves are not regulated by the FDA because they are not promoted for medical use. Sterile surgical gloves must meet standards for sterility assurance established by the FDA and are less likely than nonsterile examination gloves to harbor pathogens that may contaminate an operative wound. 1

In overview, Infection Control and Management of Hazardous Materials for the Dental Team states as follows:

Operatory Cleanup and Instrument Processing

To provide more protection for the hands during operatory cleanup and handling of instruments than that provided by the thin latex or vinyl patient care gloves or thin copolymer or plastic gloves, one should use utility gloves of nitrile or heavy latex when preparing and using chemicals, precleaning and disinfecting contaminated surfaces, and handling contaminated items during instrument processing. Each person in the office needing these gloves should have his or her own pair or pairs of gloves. The heavy utility gloves are reusable and can be washed with an antimicrobial handwashing agent, rinsed, and dried. 2

Additionally, the 2003 CDC guidelines for infection control in dentistry states as follows:

To avoid injury from sharp instruments, DHCP should wear puncture resistant, heavy-duty utility gloves when handling or manually cleaning contaminated instruments and devices (6).3


Manufacturers of dental devices and equipment should provide information regarding material compatibility with liquid chemical germicides, whether equipment can be safely immersed for cleaning, and how it should be decontaminated if servicing is required (289). Because of the risks associated

with exposure to chemical disinfectants and contaminated surfaces, DHCP who perform environmental cleaning and disinfection should wear gloves and other PPE to prevent occupational exposure to infectious agents and hazardous chemicals. Chemical- and puncture-resistant utility gloves offer more protection than patient examination gloves when using hazardous chemicals.3


5. Ensure that appropriate gloves in the correct size

are readily accessible (IC) (13).

6. Use appropriate gloves (e.g., puncture- and

chemical-resistant utility gloves) when cleaning

instruments and performing housekeeping tasks

involving contact with blood or OPIM (IB, IC)


7. Consult with glove manufacturers regarding the

chemical compatibility of glove material and

dental materials used (II). 3

A Google search for information regarding the use of utility gloves in dentistry can be accessed at these links:

Use of utility gloves, dentistry  4

Articles on the use of utility gloves, dentistry  5

Generally, the manufacturer instructions as well as the Safety Data Sheet will specify what type of glove is to be used with specific products and what type of glove will provide optimal protection for the dental healthcare worker. When a glove is specified for use to provide optimal protection, it has generally been identified as such after undergoing appropriate evaluation and selection. 



1)     US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Frequently Asked Questions - Personal Protective Equipment (Masks, Protective Eyewear, Protective Apparel, Gloves)    Accessed on May 6, 2015.

2)     Miller CH. Infection Control and Management of Hazardous Materials for the Dental Team, 5th edition. Elsevier/Mosby Publishers. Page 109.

3)     Kohn WG, Collins AS, Cleveland JL, Harte JA, Eklund KJ, Malvitz DM, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Guidelines for infection control in dental health-care settings—2003. MMWR Recomm Rep 2003;52(RR-17):1-61.    Accessed on May 6, 2015.

4) Use of search terms “Use of utility gloves, dentistry”.   Accessed on May 6, 2015.

5) Use of search terms “Articles on the use of utility gloves, dentistry”.   Accessed on May 6, 2015. 



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