2.1 Introduction

Staff TrainingIt is critical that program staff receive education and training on the principles and rationale for recommended infection-control practices before implementation of the program. Programs must have written infection-control plans (including post-exposure plans) that contain policies and procedures to reduce risk of transmission of infectious agents and that clarify the steps to be taken in case an exposure occurs.1 The written exposure-control plan should be reviewed and updated annually.

One program staff member should be designated the infection-control coordinator. This individual is in charge of maintaining the infection-control plan. The program should have access to a health professional qualified to provide post-exposure care, counseling, and follow-up. A post-exposure plan should delineate protocols and procedures, including reporting and medical care in the event of exposure to blood or other potentially infectious material (OPIM). Program staff should regularly review their plan and procedures and update them as necessary.2

The Safety Net Dental Clinic Manual provides information and resources for infection control, including examples of protocols for post-exposure management.

Step 7 of Seal America: The Prevention Invention (3rd ed.) identifies considerations for selecting the best available location for programs to operate at a given school. To help ensure optimal infection control, program planners should seek a site that has

  • Access to potable running water
  • Access to electrical outlets
  • Area large enough to set up all portable equipment (e.g., cafeteria, stage, medical suite, library, computer room)
  • Ability to create a sterilization area that can accommodate at least one autoclave with a sterile and soiled instrument component, if applicable

This module describes infection-control procedures for programs to follow when conducting screenings to select teeth for sealant placement and when applying sealants. The CDC Division of Oral Health’s four basic principles for infection control, the level of anticipated contact between the oral health professional and the child during these procedures, and OSHA regulations are the basis for these infection-control guidelines.3

CDC’s standard precautions are based on the principle that all blood, body fluids, secretions, excretions (except sweat), non-intact skin, and mucous membranes may contain transmissible infectious agents.

Standard precautions include infection-prevention practices that apply to all patients. The anticipated degree of exposure to blood, body fluids, or pathogens determines the types of precautions to be implemented.