Published on November 11-07-23



It's always a good time to brush up on ways to support patient safety in the dental chair. That means shining a light on what you and your team need to know to protect yourselves and your patients, starting with a refresher on infection risks."


As much as you want to trust your patients to share when they’re not feeling well, they may not know that they’re potentially putting you and your next patient at risk of infection. At any time, patients can have an underlying condition that poses infection risk, including:

  • Hepatitis B, C, and HIV
  • Streptococcus
  • Staphylococcus and MRSA
  • Herpes, CMV, Norovirus, and C diff
  • Coxsackie
  • Respiratory viruses
  • Influenza, RSV, SARS, and MERS
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Measles, Chickenpox, and Tuberculosis

The fact that patients can unknowingly transmit any of these directly to dental professionals underscores the importance of standard precautions.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that “Standard precautions are meant to reduce the risk of transmission of bloodborne and other pathogens from both recognized and unrecognized sources. They are the basic level of infection control precautions which are to be used, as a minimum, in the care of all patients.


Standard Precautions include:

The WHO specifies Standard Precautions in a variety of areas, such as:

  • Hand hygiene
  • Use of personal protective equipment (e.g., gloves, masks, eyewear)
  • Prevention of needle sticks and injuries from other sharp instruments
  • Respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette
  • Clean and disinfected environmental surfaces
  • Patient care equipment

It’s particularly important to prevent cross-contamination by following dental office protocols before, during, and after the patient visit.



Infection prevention starts before the patient enters the room. Make sure your team surveys the operatory to confirm that it is neat and organized. Dental professionals should inspect instruments to ensure they are intact and not compromised. For example, the packaging should be dry and sealed properly, with no holes or tears from the sharp instruments. All instruments and tools remain packaged or protected until the patient presents for treatment.


During procedures, dental professionals can be exposed to infection when saliva travels to the face shield, instruments, the keyboard, the dental chair, and other parts of the operatory. This makes it imperative to use operatory infection prevention supplies that help protect against invisible hazards, such as aerosols.

Disinfect Metal Bib Chains

Studies have shown that dental bib clips and chains have been shown to pick up dangerous microorganisms from skin, saliva, and plaque, presenting a potential source of cross-contamination in the dental operatory.
Your team should either use disposable bib clips or wipe bib chains with disinfectant between patient appointments to reduce microbial load. Sani-Tab is the only chain-free patient towel with adhesive tabs, it eliminates the need for bib chains and clips and maximizes infection control and patient comfort while saving time and money.

Use Facial Protection and Practice Eye Safety

Wear a surgical or procedure mask and eye protection or a face shield to protect mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and mouth during activities that are likely to generate splashes or sprays of blood, body fluids, secretions, and excretions. Dental professionals are especially susceptible to occupational eye hazards.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology has found that 90% of the 2,000 daily on-the-job eye injuries can be avoided with the right eye protection.

HuFriedyGroup offers a line of Masks, Face Protection and Shields.

Protecting your skin with gloves and gowns is equally important.


Wear gloves when touching blood, body fluids, secretions, excretions, mucous membranes, and non-intact skin. Change them between tasks and procedures on the same patient after contact with potentially infectious material and remember to perform hand hygiene immediately after removal.
Wear gowns to protect the skin and prevent the soiling of clothing during activities that are likely to generate splashes or sprays of blood, body fluids, secretions, or excretions.

HuFriedyGroup has the solutions that help you minimize the exposure to cross-infection and blood borne pathogens during daily procedures: choose from a selection of single-use disposables (masks, gowns, drapes, accessories, medical adhesives, gauzes, pads) which are assembled in Procedural Sets. You will optimize time, organization and efficiency during chairside preparation while increasing staff and patients’ safety.

Adhere to Waterline Maintenance Guidelines

The EPA standard for safe drinking water is ≤500 CFU/mL and the National and International Guidelines say that “simply using source water containing <500 CFU/mL of bacteria in a self-contained water system will not eliminate bacterial contamination in treatment water if biofilms in the water system are not controlled”.

For ensuring safety of patients and staff then, the solution is to minimize the potential for microbial growth in your DUWLs in a safe and optimized way. DentaPure™ Cartridge can reduce your dental waterline treatment to a simple annual routine. With one simple installation, you don’t need routine shocking protocols nor monitoring. Compatible with bottle and municipal systems in the two different solutions of Independent Water Bottle Cartridge or Municipal Cartridge, DentaPure™ does not contain harsh chemicals, silver, nor allergenic iodine proteins and it can use either tap or distilled water.


After a patient visit, the operatory must be properly cleaned and disinfected, including wiping down all surfaces.

Disinfect Surfaces Regularly

Cleaning and Disinfection are key to maintaining a safe and healthy practice environment, and disinfecting surfaces is frequently performed with staff turning over rooms after each and every patient. There are many options for surface disinfectants, and varying claims and effectiveness can make it hard to know which option is best.
Bactryl™ Disinfectant is designed to clean and disinfect surfaces while working extremely fast and effectively to kill a broad spectrum of disease-causing microorganisms in one minute.* With a low-alcohol, fragrance-free formula, is safe on all hard, non-porous healthcare surfaces, including glass, plastics, stainless steel and vinyl.

All instruments must be properly cleaned and disinfected after each patient visit as well.

Patient Care Equipment

Handle equipment soiled with blood, body fluids, secretions, and excretions in a manner that prevents skin and mucous membrane exposures, contamination of clothing, and transfer of pathogens to other patients or the environment. Clean, disinfect, and reprocess reusable equipment appropriately before use with another patient. Practice Proper Instrument

Cleaning and Reprocessing ensure that your team follows best practices for instrument cleaning and reprocessing, which involves the following steps:


While it’s not always possible to clean instruments immediately after use, biological debris can dry, harden, and become quite difficult to remove. Industry experts recommend spraying or soaking soiled instruments with a solution to keep organic buildup moist until the instruments can be cleaned properly.
Enzymax® Enzymatic Detergent from HuFriedyGroup is a dual enzyme ultrasonic cleaner that removes bioburden from dental instruments and can be used to soak and pretreat instruments prior to cleaning. The protease enzyme in Enzymax® eats the proteinaceous material on dental instruments.


Instead of keeping instruments loose in containers for presoaking and cleaning, consider utilizing secure cassettes to reduce the risk of injuries and instrument damage and create an optimal environment for reprocessing.
By using cassettes, dental professionals can avoid handling contaminated instruments any longer than necessary. And because cassettes can be configured according to procedure, instruments are kept secure throughout the entire cycle, from patient use, to presoak, to cleaning, and all the way through to reprocessing.

There are a number of advantages to using cassettes:

  • Cassette rails keep instruments separated during reprocessing, allowing access to instruments during cleaning and sterilization while protecting them from scratching and breaking.
  • Cassettes prevent instruments from sliding out or falling off of instrument trays during transportation. Even if a cassette is dropped, the instruments stay safe.
  • Cassettes can be placed directly into presoaking containers and ultrasonic cleaners. And they can be rinsed, dried, wrapped, and sterilized without removing instruments.
  • Cassettes help prevent overloading cleaning and sterilization equipment.

The cassette-based Instrument Management System (IMS) from HuFriedyGroup has proven to be highly effective for dental practices, who report that they also save dental professionals 5 to 10 minutes per procedure.

To learn more about products to help prevent infection and protect patients and staff, visit