California Dental Board Approved: Infection Control (2 Units)

The Importance of Infection Control in Dentistry





Despite the gains that have been made since the 1860s when Joseph Lister and Louis Pasteur identified infectious organisms and infection control practices to minimize their impact, today's healthcare environments persist in containing threats from infectious agents. Unlike the photo below, today's dental professionals must be alert to the potential for the transmission of pathogens in the dental healthcare setting.


Ravel, Edouard John E., 1847-1920, Beim Zahnartz, 1882. Photo Courtesy of National Institute of Medicine.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Outlook Handbook 2010-2011, there were approximately 142,000 dentists working in the US in 2008; dental hygienists held approximately 174,100 jobs (due to multiple job holdings, the number of jobs exceed the number of hygienists) and dental assistants held about 295,3000 jobs in 2008. The employment prospects for dentists are good, with an increase of 16% expected by 2018. For dental hygienists and for dental assistants, employment is expected to grow by 36% by 2018.

Both dental professionals and patients can be exposed to pathogens when contact with saliva, blood and airborne secretions. This can come from direct contact with patients and/or contaminated equipment CDC, 2003). Dental professionals live and work in a time that demands competent, thorough, modern infection control procedures. With all the media attention given to the rise of new infectious agents and treatment resistant organisms, patients too are concerned about the sterile procedures used in the dental office. Following recommended infection control procedures can prevent transmission of infectious organisms among patients and dental health care personnel.

Prevention of exposure to pathogens and the spread of disease during routine dental care is the focus of this course. Dental professionals must understand the recommended infection control measures to be confident in their own daily practice. Much of the information in this course is based on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2003 Guideline for Infection Control in the Dental Health-Care Setting (the complete citation appears in the reference section of this course).

In the State of California, dental professionals must meet the requirements of the state's laws and regulations. Title 16, Professional and Vocational Regulations, Division 10, Dental Board of California, Chapter 1, Section 1005 identifies Minimum Standards for Infection Control applicable to all dental licensees. This course includes those minimum Standards.

According to California Rules and Regulations, Section 1017, Dentists and Dental Auxiliaries are required to complete a minimum of 80% of their required units for license renewal in Category I subjects including two units of continuing education in infection control and two units in the California Dental Practice Act, and no more than 20% of their required units in Category II subjects. The mandatory units will count toward the total units required to renew a license, however, failure to complete the mandatory courses will result in non-renewal of a license. This course was submitted to, and approved by, the Dental Board of California. Successful completion of this course will fulfill the mandatory requirement for two units of continuing education in infection control.

Continue on to The Chain of Infection