CDC Summary Changes to Be Implemented

By Andrea Cook


There has been talk for some time regarding an update to the Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings, 2003. The CDC will not be releasing new guidelines for infection control in dental settings. However, in March 2016, the CDC released their update; a document entitled "Summary of Infection Prevention Practices in Dental Settings: Basic Expectations for Safe Care and Companion Checklist." The entire document is available online at

This published document summarizes the existing recommendations to make them much easier to understand and use in all dental settings, including our orthodontic practices. The summary, intended to supplement the existing CDC recommendations and not replace them, focuses on standard precautions and the foundation for preventing transmission of infectious agents during patient care.

Below is a list of recommendations published by CDC since 2003 that all offices must incorporate into their practices:

Administrative Measures

  1. Develop and maintain written infection prevention policies and procedures appropriate for the services provided by the facility and based upon evidence-based guidelines, regulations, or standards.
  2. Infection prevention policies and procedures are reassessed at least annually or according to state or federal requirements.
  3. Assign at least one individual trained in infection prevention responsibility for coordinating the program.
  4. Provide supplies necessary for adherence to Standard Precautions including hand hygiene products, safer devices to reduce injuries, and personal protective equipment.
  5. Facility has system for early detection and management of potentially infectious persons at initial points of patient encounter.

Respiratory Hygiene/Cough Etiquette

  1. Implement measures to contain respiratory secretions in patients and accompanying individuals who have signs and symptoms of a respiratory infection, beginning at point of entry to the facility and continuing throughout the visit.

Infection Prevention Education and Training

  1. Maintain training records according to state and federal requirements.

Sterilization and Disinfection of Patient-Care Items and Devices

  1. Have manufacturer instructions for reprocessing reusable dental instruments / equipment readily available, ideally in or near the reprocessing area.
  2. Label sterilized items with the sterilizer used, the cycle or load number, the date of sterilization, and (if applicable) the expiration date.
  3. Ensure routine maintenance for sterilization equipment is performed according to manufacturer instructions and maintenance records are available.

A checklist is available to evaluate your office and staff compliance with administrative and clinical practice infection prevention recommendations at Please contact me at for assistance with evaluating your compliance, training, or implementation of changes to your sterilization system.

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