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Oral Health Topics

Infection Control and Sterilization

Key Points

  • Since 1993, the ADA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have updated and supplemented their infection control recommendations to reflect new scientific knowledge and growing understanding of the principles of infection control.
  • A 2016 CDC document, “CDC Summary of Infection Prevention Practices in Dental Settings: Basic Expectations for Safe Care” brings together recommendations from the CDC 2003 guidelines on infection control with tools and checklists to help dental health care personnel follow infection prevention guidelines.
  • The ADA urges all practicing dentists, dental auxiliaries and dental laboratories to employ appropriate infection control procedures as described in the 2003 CDC Guidelines, and 2016 CDC Summary and to keep up to date as scientific information leads to improvements in infection control, risk assessment, and disease management in oral health care.
  • Along with the proper sterilization of instruments and materials, sterilizer monitoring is an essential part of any in-office infection control program.
  • The CDC advises that dentists use only FDA-cleared dental handpieces and sterilize them according to manufacturers’ instructions.
  • Introduction
  • CDC Infection Control Recommendations for Dentistry
  • Infection Control: Instrument and Equipment Sterilization
  • Infection Control: Monitoring Sterilizers
  • ADA Policy on Infection Control
  • References
  • ADA Resources
  • Other Resources
Prepared by: Center for Scientific Information, ADA Science Institute, Evidence Synthesis & Translation Research, ADA Science & Research Institute, LLC
Topic Updated: March 9, 2020.


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