Best Practices in Infection Control

By Dr. John Molinari and Peri Nelson

Editor’s note: In Best Practices in Infection Control, with THE DENTAL ADVISOR, Dr. John Molinari and Peri Nelson will address common concerns related to Infection control in dental practices. Questions can be submitted at, under the Ask The Editors tab.

Q: One of my colleagues mentioned they use a holding solution for instruments prior to processing for sterilization. Is this a reasonable approach?

A: Yes. A holding solution is a good idea if the circumstances warrant it. One example would be if it is not possible to clean instruments immediately after patient use.

The intent of holding solution is only to keep debris moist; if it dries, cleaning becomes more difficult. Holding solutions are not intended for disinfection, and chemical disinfectants should not be used for this purpose.


Q: In our practice, we have a large team. Doctors are split on using hand sanitizer versus hand soap. Which is better to use?

A: You have several acceptable hand washing methods for use in your practice. Either plain soap or an anti-microbial soap and water can be used for non-surgical dental procedures. If hands are not visibly soiled, contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious materials, use of waterless alcohol based hand rub is also acceptable.


Q: Patients have been complaining about the taste of our water. Are we doing something wrong in treating our waterlines?

A: Water from dental units should be flushed for 2-3 minutes each morning to remove any buildup and debris. If you are using a waterline treatment product, one error we often see is not following instructions. Most tablets require a monthly shock treatment to all waterlines. If this is not done, the water that is going through the lines will be clean but the lines will be dirty. Biofilm can dislodge from the walls of the tubing into the water stream. If the taste still persists, there are waterline treatment products that have a more pleasant flavor.

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