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Why hand hygiene and infection control are so important

Simple question, yet this was difficult for many non healthcare professionals to understand the importance until now. With all the hysteria of COVID-19, people are becoming more aware of the ease of transmission of bacteria and viruses. Infection control in dentistry is always evolving to protect patients and healthcare practitioners as we are continually educating ourselves to abide by all infection control protocols and guidelines. Healthcare professionals are keenly aware of routes of transmission of diseases and viruses and follow strict protocols to ensure that patients are safe and protected, but is everyone else?

In microbiology class, I remember doing a petri dish experiment where we were instructed to take a cotton swab sample from anything in that building. I chose an elevator button and the inside lock of a bathroom stall. You can only imagine the growth of bacterial colonies in less than 24 hours.

So the next time you open the door to the gas station, lift the gas pump to pump your gas, open the door to the bathroom stall, place your hand on that shopping cart, or open the freezer door at the grocery store to grab those frozen veggies, treat it as if has been contaminated because you don’t know who opened that door last.

Did they have a cold sore that they just touched? Did they just sneeze or cough in their hand before touching the handle? Did their child just slobber or sneeze all over the shopping cart handle? Did the person wash their hands after using the restroom? See how easy it is to transmit bacteria and viruses?

If you want to know more about infection control, to keep yourself, your family, and your dental office safe, these are the top four episodes I recommend listening to:

Episode 191: Student Roundtable on Infection Control

Episode 192: ​OSAP – the Best Kept Secret in Infection Control with Michelle Lee

Episode 193: ​Blood Borne Pathogens with Kim Laudenslager

Episode 194: Infection Control Compliance with Toothcop Duane Tinker, “Tink” the Toothcop (he has his own podcast, Talking with the Toothcop)

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