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Could you be the infection control coordinator at your dental practice?

July 25, 2022
ICCs play a significant role at their practice, perhaps never more than since the pandemic. Learn more from Michelle Strange, MSDH, RDH, about the key requirements of ICCs and the steps to making this exciting career move.

Preventing health-care-associated infections, controlling the spread of disease, and ensuring overall safe practices are the fundamental objectives of an infection prevention program. Health-care facilities, including dentistry clinics, must adhere to current relevant state and local requirements, such as those issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).1,2 Managing and supervising the site-specific program is essential. Typically, an infection prevention coordinator, also known as the infection control coordinator (ICC), should be appointed to take charge of the process.

Why does a dental office need an ICC?

Dental offices manage an ever-growing list of responsibilities, including clinical treatment, financial administration, legal requirements, marketing and promotion, and much more. Without dedicated personnel, ensuring the safety of both patients and providers takes a back seat, and in certain situations, may be neglected.

Since 2003, the CDC has advocated the function of dental infection prevention coordinators in every practice.3 This coordinator oversees complete infection control responsibilities to ensure the health-care facility or office complies with the recommended infection protocols. The ICC ultimately contributes to a safe visit for patients and a safe working environment for all health-care personnel.

Infection control in dentistry is not a novel concept. However, a lot has changed in recent years, from increasingly complex regulatory requirements to increased knowledge of liability exposure and the public's rising awareness about infection control breaches in health-care facilities. Dental providers and the team can't afford to take chances when it comes to infection prevention. The key to maintaining patient and team member safety and achieving regulatory compliance is to assign an individual from the team the role of managing an individualized, written infection control program.

Day-to-day responsibilities of ICCs

The infection control coordinator's role varies from facility to facility. Ultimately, the ICC is a resource for infection prevention and control for the entire dental team. General responsibilities include developing safety guidelines consistent with relevant regulations and standards. The infection prevention coordinator is responsible for all equipment and supplies, including hygiene products and personal protective equipment. Communication of any information and concerns about infection prevention is also the responsibility of the ICC.

The effectiveness of the infection control program must be evaluated regularly to discover gaps and/or outdated information if a dental office wishes to ensure that these approaches and procedures are effective and successful. As such, the ICC is also responsible for preserving pertinent paperwork, including assessing compliance using checklists, observations, and other evaluation methods. Although infection control is a collaborative endeavor, the ICC is responsible for providing appropriate training to ensure that new and existing workers are up to date on the latest policies and standard operating procedures (SOPs).

As the primary resource for infection prevention, ICCs must have a solid educational background and training to enable them to carry out these duties successfully. The CDC states that such personnel must be well versed and willing to keep up with the latest advancements in the field. At the very least, the ICC should have a working knowledge of cross-contamination mechanisms in dentistry, infection prevention, general safety practices, and the materials and equipment needed to ensure employee and patient safety. To be a successful ICC, one must have a solid foundation in infection control procedures and know-how to implement an infection control program.

Where Level Up Infection Prevention comes in

Infection control in any health-care setting has always been crucial. However, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, this role has been further put into the spotlight, and clear SOPs and transparent processes are essential to reassure the public and staff that their safety is at the forefront.

With the guidance of two highly qualified dental hygienists, Michelle Strange, MSDH, RDH, and India Chance, RDH, Level Up Infection Prevention has developed essential resources to enable individuals to become leaders and contributors to dental clinics wishing to strive for the gold standard in infection control. To ensure that more practices adhere to infection control guidelines and maintain a safe environment for providing care, Level Up Infection Prevention offers online courses that teach infection control coordinators how to implement solid protocols that stay in place regardless of staff turnover. Upon qualification, those attending these courses become infection prevention advocates armed with credible information enhancing the mission to provide safer dentistry.


1.Infection prevention & control in dental settings. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Accessed December 9, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/infectioncontrol/index.html

2. COVID-19 - Control and prevention. Dentistry workers and employers. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Accessed December 9, 2021. https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/control-prevention/dentistry

3. Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings -2003. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). December 19, 2003. Accessed December 9, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5217a1.htm