Team Centered Approach to Instrument Processing and Infection Control

Dec. 15, 2016

A Peer-Reviewed Publication Written by Noel Brandon Kelsch, RDH, RDHAP, AS, BS


Infection prevention must be the first priority in the dental health-care setting. It is the foundation of safe dentistry. In order to meet the challenges of safety, time management, and asepsis, the Dental Health-Care Provider (DHCP) must have a plan for infection control. The plan should be coordinated by an individual in the office called the Infection Prevention Coordinator (IPC). The IPC has a vast amount of responsibilities including monitoring for adherence to instructions for use on FDA-approved medical devices, the reprocessing and care of dental instruments, and proper use of disposables. Utilizing the 2013 CDC guidelines and the 2016 Summary of Infection Prevention Practices in Dental settings can help to significantly reduce the risk of microbial transmission. Infection prevention strategies must be implemented in the operatory as well as the sterilization area, including instrument reprocessing. As there are a variety of methods, choosing a system that minimizes risk, maximizes productivity, and preserves instruments is essential. All these tasks must be monitored to assure infection prevention is effective.

Educational Objectives

The overall goal of this course is to provide information on infection control in the dental office. Upon completion of the course, the clinician will be able to do the following:

1. Describe the chain of infection and modes of transmission of microorganisms in the dental setting.
2. Define and explain the four basic principles and goals to reduce microbial transmission.
3. Discuss the function and role of the Infection Prevention Coordinator (IPC) in the sterilization process.
4. List and describe instrument processing steps, safety measures, and use of instrument management systems in this process.
5. Express the role and importance of following manufacturer Instructions for Use (IFU's), indicators and monitoring systems in sterilization.

To view the entire course, click here.