Members of the Children's Dental Surgery Center give the thumbs up during a successful Infection Control Week.

It’s Dental Infection Control Awareness Month. What’s your practice doing?

Sept. 8, 2020
The Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention reminds dental professionals that this is a particularly good time to observe Dental Infection Control Awareness Month. To help make the month a success they're offering a variety of tools.
Meg Kaiser, Associate Editor

It’s now the second week of Dental Infection Control Awareness Month (DICAM20), which is observed every September, and this year’s theme is “Breaking the Chain.” What’s your practice doing to commemorate this important month? The Organization for Safety Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP) says there’s no better time than during a pandemic to remind your team about the importance of infection control and to learn a few new tips. The organization is offering many free tools to help you get the message across to your team and patients.

“Last week we focused on hand hygiene and offered a patient script, CDC resources, and a digital toolkit on this important topic,” said Michelle Lee, CPC, executive director of OSAP. “This week drills into dental unit waterlines with a patient script, CDC guidelines, and access to a downloadable white paper. The white paper provides recommendations for dental workers; guidance for manufacturers of dental units, dental water treatment devices, and chemical agents; and recommendations for voluntary consensus standards."

"The third week, September 13–19, will be all about personal protective equipment. The DICAM resources include CDC guidelines for PPE and an infographic on how to don and remove PPE. Week four, September 20–27, focuses on instrument sterilization. The month-long infection control campaign also provides tools that specifically address COVID-19, such as a best-practices guide and a patient brochure available in English and Spanish, a social media toolkit, plus much more.”

OSAP started DICAM in September 2015 as a collaborative, profession-facing effort to support dental practitioners and help them communicate to patients the critical role infection control plays in preventing the spread of disease in dentistry. COVID-19 has cast September 2020 as an especially auspicious time to think about infection control. In addition, the flu season is approaching and the CDC believes it is likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading. In this context, getting a flu vaccine will be more important than ever.

Have fun and be creative

“Previous DICAM campaigns have generated some amazing ideas and we’re eager to see what DICAM20 yields,” Lee said. “Here’s a successful example of a past observance. Last year we heard from Erin Smilanich, RS, Health, Safety and Research Officer at University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. Here’s what her organization did to celebrate the week.”

“We held a trivia day where students, staff, and faculty came to my office and answer a daily question,” Smilanich wrote. “Regardless if they got the answer correct, they got a treat and were entered into a drawing. If they got the answer wrong? I educated them on the correct answer!”

“We played a game called Poke-germ-go,” she continued. “I placed 12 common viruses/germs around the school for the students to find and snap me a picture plus one fact about the virus. Their name was entered into a drawing, and the students had a blast with this one. We held a poster contest, and finally, a video contest. It was a fun and educational month for us, and we wanted to share it with OSAP and thank them for the week.”

How can your practice access DICAM tools?

“As a part of DICAM20 we have some great discounts on our infection control educational products,” Lee said. These include:

OSAP workbooks—Use promo code SEPT25 through September 30 to receive 25% off. 

• From Policy to Practice: OSAP’s Guide to the CDC Guidelines (2019 Edition)
• OSHA & CDC Guidelines: Interact Training System (6th Edition)

OSAP-DALE Foundation Dental Infection Prevention and Control Certificate—Use promo code SEPT25 through September 30 to receive 25% off Step 1 and Step 2.  

Step 1: Understanding CDC’s Summary of Infection Prevention Practices in Dental Settings
Step 2: OSAP-DALE Foundation Dental Infection Prevention and Control eHandbook

“We hope to see dental practices, educators, consultants, and those in the dental trade posting infection control best practices, success stories, or selfies on social media and joining the conversation using the hashtag #DICAM20,” Lee said. “There are so many in the industry who are doing great things to keep their patients safe. We want to hear about them all so we can come together as a community and promote the importance of dental infection control.” 

To encourage social media posts, OSAP has provided suggested messaging and images that can be used throughout the month. Dental practitioners, including infection control coordinators, the dental trade, educators, consultants, and others who are interested are encouraged to visit to join OSAP and to stay up to date on the latest resources and educational opportunities.