MRSA in the Dental Office

Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS


April 01, 2011

In This Article

The Challenge to Dental Healthcare Professionals

Infection control has greatly improved in dental offices,[18] and the scientific evidence base for improved practices is increasing. MDROs are transmitted by the same routes as antimicrobial-susceptible infectious agents, although the resulting MDRO infection may be more complicated or severe. Patient-to-patient transmission in healthcare settings, usually through the hands of healthcare workers, is a major factor accounting for the increase in MDRO incidence and prevalence in acute care settings.

Ms. Collins sums up the challenge to dental healthcare professionals. "Preventing the emergence and transmission of these pathogens in the dental office requires a comprehensive approach that includes administrative involvement and measures (eg, performance improvement processes to ensure adherence to recommended infection control measures), education and training of dental healthcare personnel, judicious antibiotic use, and environmental measures (eg, cleaning and disinfection of the patient care environment and equipment)." Because of concerns about the increasing prevalence of MDROs, dental healthcare facilities must prioritize these effective strategies for prevention of MDRO transmission.

Summary of Recommendations

  • Educate staff about the "chain of infection" and potential modes of transmission in the dental office, with an emphasis on standard precautions for all patient encounters;

  • Post written information/reminders about correct hand-washing and hand-rubbing techniques;

  • Ensure the availability and correct use of PPE;

  • Establish and monitor compliance with policies and procedures (consistent with CDC guidelines) for infection control practices throughout the dental office, including environmental cleaning, sterilization and disinfection, and other practices outlined by the CDC specifically for the dental healthcare setting.[7] A comprehensive checklist to evaluate your practice according to the CDC guidelines is available from the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention.[19]


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