Cross Infection Control

Cross infection can be defined as the passing of one infection causing microorganism (bacteria, viruses, fungal spores, etc.) from one person to another. This can be directly through contact with an infected person or indirectly through contaminated items. Cross infection control are the measures taken to prevent cross infection. Cross infection in dental practices is extremely rare with only a handful of incidences being recorded. However we take this matter extremely seriously and are constantly updating our policies, procedures and equipment to make sure that your visit to The Dental Centre remains as safe as possible.

Every patient has their medical history taken and updated. However we practice universal cross infection control measures, which mean that we treat all patients the same, using the highest cross infection control measures.

All staff have their medical status regularly checked and have the recommended vaccinations to reduce the likelihood of infection. All the staff receive regular training in cross infection control. The clinical staff (dentist, nurse or hygienist) always wear a fresh pair of surgical gloves. We also wear masks and protective eyewear when treating patients.

The surgery is zoned into clean areas and contaminated areas to make cleaning easier and we even colour code the cleaning equipment to make sure only cleaning equipment designated for the clinical areas is used within the clinical areas. Between patients the surgery is cleaned using disinfectant sprays and wipes. Our modern treatment centres are designed to be as easy to clean as possible. We try to use as many disposable items as possible (eg. Anaesthetic needles, cups, suction tips, gloves, etc.) and these are all disposed of immediately. We have contracts with specialist companies who dispose of this waste according to the required regulations. Hands are washed between patients, using surgical grade antibacterial cleansers.

Contaminated instruments go to our separate Decontamination Room to be cleaned and sterilised before being reused. Initially instruments are placed in a bath of specialised detergent. This stops debris adhering to the instrument and starts the cleaning process. The instruments then move on to an ultrasonic bath for the next stage of cleaning. The instruments are placed in another specialised cleaning detergent within the tank of the bath.Ultasonic Bath An ultrasonic cleaner functions by containing an electronic 'generator' which develops a high frequency power.  The power is supplied to a piezo ceramic transducer which sends sound waves into the tank. These sound waves are of a very high frequency, outside of the audible human range. The sound waves create millions of microscopic bubbles which collapse or implode releasing large amounts of energy and literally suck the contamination from the surface of the item being cleaned. This method of cleaning is far more efficient than the manual cleaning and scrubbing that was used in the past. The instruments are then inspected under the magnifying lamp we have in the Decontamination Room, to insure no debris is present. If any is found the instrument goes back into the ultrasonic cleaner.

The instruments are now clean, but not sterile, ie. They are still contaminated with microscopic particles. They then go onto the next stage of the cleaning process in the autoclave. Steam is a very effective way of killing microorganisms. However, normally steam only heats to 100˚CAutoclave, which many organisms can survive. An autoclave is a specialised piece of equipment that heats purified water under pressure, producing steam at temperatures of over 130˚C. Instruments placed within the autoclave are subjected to steam at 134 to 137˚C for 3 minutes, which destroys all the microorganisms present and sterilises the instruments. We are so concerned about cross infection control at The Dental Centre that we have chosen to install the more expensive vacuum autoclave which, as its name suggests, creates a vacuum in the sterilising chamber, making the sterilising process much more efficient and makes sure all areas of the instrument are sterile. There is no point in having all this expensive equipment if it is not working properly, therefore various tests are carried out daily and at other regular intervals to make sure they are doing the necessary job. All equipment is also tested and serviced at the recommended intervals by qualified engineers. We have also chosen the top of the range models that keep a computer log of every time the machine is used, to make sure that all the correct temperatures, pressures, cycle times, etc. have been reached.

Once sterile the instruments are stored in closed trays or sealed pouches. The date of sterilisation is noted and even if an instrument has not been used, we will sterilise it again after a certain period to make sure it is still sterile.

All the water used within the treatment centres is specially treated and regularly tested for any microorganisms, making it far cleaner than tap water. We also underwent and passed testing for the presence of Legionella within the practice water system.

Hopefully all this puts your mind at ease that we are doing all we can to make your visit as safe as possible. If you have any questions about our infection control procedures or wish to see our decontamination procedures in action, please do not hesitate to ask any of the members of staff.