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Preparing Your Operatory to Ensure Safe Practice

Professionals and researchers in dentistry, medicine, and public health continue to discover more effective and innovative ways to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19. In dental settings, operatory preparation and disinfection are essential to providing safe patient care. Adequate hand hygiene; proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE); and thoroughly disinfecting environmental surfaces, devices, and equipment are among the most important facets of basic infection control. Hand hygiene (eg, handwashing or hand sanitizing) is one of the most critical measures for reducing the risk of transmitting organisms to patients and oral health professionals, as it substantially reduces pathogens when performed properly. Meticulous planning for disinfection and sterilization of all aspects of the dental office, operatory, and equipment is essential for providing safe patient care. As the science related to COVID-19 remains fluid, oral health professionals will need to consistently seek updates on evidence-based guidelines and protocols.


Not all states require infection control continuing education for dental personnel, therefore, each oral health professional must strive to implement recommendations that represent current evidence and best practices.

Female doctor cleaning dental office miljko / E+
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Because oral health professionals are routinely exposed to blood and other potentially infectious materials, OSHA requires employers to provide which of the following to protect clinicians from such exposure?

A Latina Healthcare Worker in Her Fifties Wearing a Face Mask and Surgical Gloves Wipes a Medical Chair in an Examination Room at a Dental Office in Preparation for the Next Patient Hoptocopter / E+
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OSHA does not stipulate that employers provide training and PPE for employees who handle chemicals.

Dentist assistant using strong disinfectant agent to clean dental office for the next patient Kosamtu / E+
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Clinical contact surfaces can be directly contaminated either by patients’ fluid particles or contact with oral health professionals’ contaminated gloves.

Dental cabinet & dental equipment yoh4nn / E+
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Which of the following is a frequently touched surface that can serve as reservoirs for microbial contamination?

Dental Office Waiting Room With Social Distancing Seats Arranged According To New Normal onurdongel / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Manufacturer’s information for use should be reviewed to determine the appropriate method and products for the disinfection of dental equipment.

asian chinese female nurse with PPE Protective workwear cleaning up surgery tools chee gin tan / E+
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The creation of aerosols by rotary handpieces, ultrasonic devices, and air water syringes has become a major concern for the potential spread of viruses and microorganisms, including SARS-CoV-2.

Dental Equipment and Work Tool Kosamtu / E+
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Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems in a dental facility may disperse aerosol contaminants. 

a spray of liquid in a black background. moonHo Joe / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Preparing Your Operatory to Ensure Safe Practice
Not bad, but there’s room to grow when it comes to understanding how to prepare your operatory to ensure safe practice. Consider reading more about this important facet of dental hygiene care. Good luck!
Well done! Continue to study preparing your operatory to ensure safe practice. You’ve got this!
Congrats! You understand the importance of preparing your operatory to ensure safe practice. Get out there and put your know-how to good use!

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This information is from the article “Essentials of Operatory Preparation, Disinfection, and Sterilization” by Melissa Ray, RDH, BS, MS; Crystal Kanderis Lane, RDH, BS, MS; and Jacqueline J. Freudenthal, RDH, MHE. To read the article, click here.
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