Not everything at the dentist’s office is as disinfected as you might think. Research shows there’s a pair of items you encounter in the dentist’s chair that can potentially infect your mouth.
A study at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and the Forsyth Institute shows that a significant proportion of the clips that hold the dental bib around your neck harbor problematic bacteria passed on from previous patients, dental clinicians and the general dental office environment even after the clips have undergone standard disinfection procedures.
“The study of bib clips from the hygiene clinic demonstrates that with the current disinfection protocol, specific aerobic and anaerobic bacteria can remain viable on the surfaces of bib clips immediately after disinfection,” says researcher Addy Alt-Holland. “Although actual transmission to patients was not demonstrated, some of the ubiquitous bacteria found may potentially become opportunistic pathogens in appropriate physical conditions, such as in susceptible patients or clinicians.”
In this research:
- Immediately after treatment and before clips had been disinfected, oral bacteria often associated with chronic and refractory periodontitis were found on 65 percent of the clips.
- After disinfection, 15 percent of the clips still had anaerobic Streptococcus bacteria from the oral cavity and upper respiratory tract. Five percent of the clips still harbored at least one type of bacteria from the Staphylococcus, Prevotella and Neisseria species.
- Additionally, after disinfection, 45 percent of the clips retained at least one anaerobic bacterial isolate from skin.