Study finds dental bib chain contamination

March 15, 2010
UNC School of Dentistry conducts study.

A study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Dentistry Oral Microbiology Laboratory found that dental bib clips may be potential sources of cross-contamination in a dental office.

Researchers sampled 50 bib clips from hygiene and dental operatories. One out of five bib clips were found to have a presence of significant microorganisms.

Of most concern were the pathogenic species found: pseudomonas, S. aureus and the enteric bacteria, E. coli. Patients with compromised immune systems or breathing disorders may be at more risk considering some of the disease-causing bacteria found have been implicated in severe respiratory infections.

Bacteria from the previous patient can stay on the clip and be passed on to the next unsuspecting patient or dental professional. UNC found that the species comprising the contamination on the clips were consistent with coming from saliva and/or dental plaque, skin or water lines.

"Finding one bib clip in this study that harbored potentially disease-causing bacteria would be a concern so the fact that close to 20% of bib clips studied showed a significant presence of microorganisms is important for dental offices to consider," said Dr. Roland Arnold, UNC's professor of diagnostic sciences and director of the Oral Microbiology Laboratory.

There are ways to avoid the risk of bib chain contamination. An office can effectively sterilize chains between patients or choose a disposable bib holder that is discarded with the bib. When choosing a solution, an office should consider which option reduces the risk the most and which option is easiest to implement.

For more information, contact Dux Dental or visit UNC School of Dentistry.

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