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Aerosols in the Dental Office: Best Practices for Patient and Practitioner Safety

Course Number: 619

Standard and Transmission-based Precautions: Best Practices for Dental Professionals

In 1985, the Centers for Disease Control [now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)] introduced the concept that all blood and body fluids that might be contaminated with blood should be treated as infectious.97 Initial infection control measures were introduced largely because of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic; it was expanded to Universal Precautions to include other bloodborne pathogens such as hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV), which has been expanded in the intervening years to include other potentially infectious material (OPIM). Today infection prevention is predicated on Standard and Transmission based Precautions.98-103 There are three categories of Transmission-based Precautions: contact precaution, droplet precautions, and airborne precautions associated with droplet nuclei.101-104

Airborne precautions include administrative controls, environmental controls, and respiratory-protection controls. While typical outpatient dental facilities must incorporate administrative controls into their infection prevention protocol, they are not expected to be in full compliance with environmental and respiratory-prevention controls.