Dental Hand Washing Techniques Proper hand washing techniques in a dental office are very similar to hand washing techniques in any other medical facility. Hand washing techniques, or hand hygiene, decrease the risk of transferring germs and bacteria to dental patients. While antibacterial products such as liquid and bar soaps are popular on the market, according to the “Harvard Health Publication” from the Harvard medical department, plain soap and water works just as well when cleaning hands. When Should Hands Be Washed? As a dentist, hands should be washed previous to taking care of the dental patient and immediately after treatment is completed. Hands should always be washed before gloves are put on, and after gloves are removed. If any dental equipment that may be tainted with saliva or blood is touched without the use of gloves; hands should be properly washed. If at any time during an oral procedure gloves are punctured or torn, dentist or dental assistants should instantly wash hands. Lastly, if hands are obviously dirty, then the hands should be appropriately washed. Proper Hand Washing Technique According to “Harvard Health Publications”, hands washed with soap and water should be washed for a minimum of 15 seconds. By washing the hands for 15 seconds, 90% of bacterial is decreased from the hands. Regardless if plain soap or antibacterial soap is used the proper procedure is to cover hands with cleaner, wash the backs of the hands, scrub the fingertips and fingernails, clean the thumbs, and wash between each finger. Hand-washing Categories There are different categories when washing hands in a dental office setting. A standard 15 second hand wash is when plain soap is used to remove dirt from the surface of the hands and fingers. An antiseptic hand wash uses water and an antimicrobial soap to destroy transient microorganisms on the hands and fingers. Like the standard hand wash, an antiseptic hand wash should commence for a minimum of 15 seconds. Similar to the antiseptic hand wash, an antiseptic hand rub is used to remove transient microorganisms on the hands and fingers, but should be used with an alcohol based solution. Hands should be continuously rubbed until dry. For oral surgeries water and an antimicrobial soap should be used to wash the hands, fingers and forearms for the duration of 2-6 minutes to destroy all bacteria and microorganisms. Properly Store Hand Washing Materials Plain soap and products containing antiseptics may become polluted if they are not kept in a tightly closed container and dispensed from a container that can be thrown away after use. If a container is re-used it should be thoroughly washed and dried before being refilled. Soaps that have been contaminated will reverse the advantages effects of proper hand washing and disinfection.
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