Infection Control

Hand Hygiene in Dentistry

Hand Hygiene is achieved by handwash, which is the primary means of infection control in dentistry infact any surgical procedure.

In Dentistry Hands are the parts of the body which are the most exposed to the site of operation, the site of operation is the place where chances of transmission of diseases is the maximum due to the exposure of the underlying structures during a surgery.

So Handwashing for a Dentist is the Primary necessity or the first step in achieving Infection Control.

Hand hygiene refers to the process for the physical removal of dirt, blood, body fluids and transient microorganisms from the hands (hand washing) and /or destruction of microorganisms (hand antisepsis). It is an important measure for preventing the spread of infection and is the cornerstone of good infection control. Direct contact is one of the main modes of transmission of Infectious Diseases.

When performed correctly, hand hygiene will remove transient microorganisms from the surface of the skin. For routine dentistry it is not necessary to try and remove the resident bacterial flora, which have a symbiotic protective role. However for surgical procedures (e.g Removal of a Impacted tooth) more extensive disinfection of the hands is required to reduce the numbers of resident bacteria.

The Steps in Hand Washing:

1. Remove Gloves if you completed a surgery / Before attending a surgery and putting on gloves.

2. Wet hands with running water.

3. Apply soap and rub to lather well

  • Rub palm to palm
  • Rub the back of both hands
  • Rub palms again with fingers interlaced
  • Rub backs of interlaced fingsrs
  • Wash back of thumbs
  • Rib both palms with fingertips
  • Wash your wrists

These steps should be done for 15-30 seconds

4. Rinse the Hands under clean running water until all the soap is gone.

5. Bloat your hands dry with a clean towel.

** Do not close the tap with your own hands ask your attender to do so or use a paper napkin **

When to wash Hands:

  • Before donning gloves for dental treatment
  • After removing gloves
  • If your hands become contaminated with blood/body fluids
  • After contact with contaminated dental equipment
  • After cleaning up blood or body fluid spills
  • After handling waste

Hand wash with Alcohol Hand washes.

  • Distribute alcohol hand rub the solution evenly over every part of the hand, fingers and wrists.
  • Rub hands together vigorously using the Ayliffe method. Pay particular attention to the tips webs and nail beds of the fingers and thumbs
  • Continue until the solution has completely evaporated and the hands are dry
  • Gloves must be worn and changed between patients
  • Hand cream should be applied regularly to protect skin from drying. However, communal tubs should be avoided as these can become contaminated.

Alcohol / Phenol hand washes are used as they are efficient in killing bacteria and remove dirt and bacterial spores from the hand surface.


  1. Good gum care is essential for proper dental hygiene. Take a look at the teeth gum care tips, a guide to healthier and stronger gums.

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