Cross-contamination is the passing of microrganisms (bacteria, fungi, virus) and other harmful substances from one person to another. In dental environments, cross-contamination can occur as a result of non-sterile equipment and products or due to improper hygiene procedures. Understanding and practicing basic and simple procedures for the prevention of cross-contamination, such as proper cleaning and decontamination followed by sterilization in safe and validated procedures, must be considered today's most important issue in all health care settings.
Proper Decontamination is Needed
It is extremely important to decontaminate your instruments properly, not only by sterilization, but also by first washing them thoroughly, both externally and internally. If the rotating instruments are not properly cleaned before sterilization, blood, salvia and other biological material can hide inside the rotating instruments and create biofilm, which makes the bacteria almost impossible to destroy. This means the possibility of cross-contamination remains intact and the patients' healths are at risk.
Sterile does not mean Clean
Bacteria do not cause infection by just being there. However, they produce enzymes (toxins) that will break down tissue. A sterile instrument might be free from living microorganisms. But if it is improperly cleaned, it can be filled with poisonous toxins that can cause strong inflammatory reactions in patients or dental staff. When bacteria disintegrate after having been killed, all toxins in their interior will be released into their surroundings. Sterilization of a large bacterial burden can, therefore, mean an increased risk. This is the main reason why instruments have to be thoroughly cleaned before they are sterilized.
Did You Know ...
Hepatitis B virus is one the world's most common and serious infectious diseases. It is estimated that more than one third of the world's popultation has been infected with the virus. Hepatitis B virus infections cause more than 1 million deaths every year.
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