OSH Answers Fact Sheets
Easy-to-read, question-and-answer fact sheets covering a wide range of workplace health and safety topics, from hazards to diseases to ergonomics to workplace promotion. MORE ABOUT >
What precautions should I take when employed in the dental field?
Consider blood, saliva and gingival fluid from all dental patients as infective. Refer to "Routine Practices" for preventing transmission of bloodborne infectious diseases.
- Use rubber dams in restorative dentistry whenever possible.
- Report immediately suspect fluid exposure, or a needlestick or sharp injury to a designated person because if post-exposure chemoprophylaxis is to be implemented, it should begin preferably within 1 to 2 hours after exposure.
What personal protection should I use?
- If you have open or healing wounds, or skin infections.
- When in contact with saliva, mucous membranes or blood.
- When in contact with blood-soiled items, body fluids or surfaces contaminated by them.
- When examining all oral lesions.
Replace torn or punctured gloves immediately.
Use new gloves for every patient.
- When blood or body fluids are likely to soil clothing.
Change gowns daily or when visibly soiled with blood or body fluids.
Wear masks, face/eye protection or chin-length plastic face shields (with safety glasses or goggles):
- To protect oral and nasal mucosa from the splatter of blood, saliva or gingival fluid.
- Between patients.
- After completing procedure and before leaving work area.
- With germicidal soap before and immediately after removing gloves.
When should I decontaminate and sterilize instruments and equipment?
- Use disposable materials. Dispose in plastic bags. Place needles and sharp instruments in puncture-resistant containers before disposal. Check with local municipality for disposal of contaminated waste.
- Routinely sterilize instruments used in all dental procedures. Store in sterile packs or pouches.
- Sterilize after each use other dental instruments that come in contact with oral tissues such as amalgam condensers, plastic instruments of handpieces and burs. High-level disinfect if this is not possible.
- Cover with impervious-backed paper, tin foil or clear plastic wrap equipment and surfaces that may become contaminated and are not easy to clean. Remove and replace for each patient.
- Thoroughly clean blood and saliva from supplies used in mouth (impression material, bite registration). Clean and disinfect.
How should I decontaminate of environmental surfaces?
- Use absorbent paper towelling to remove blood or saliva.
- Use a medical grade disinfectant to disinfect all potentially contaminated objects and surfaces.
- Follow safe work procedures as stated in the material safety data sheets (MSDS) for handling and disposal.
Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.