Every year, thousands of Kiwis visit their dentist for a routine check-up or emergency care such as wisdom tooth removal. All of them are susceptible to pathogens they can acquire from the office, causing an infection.

From Viruses to Bacteria

In reality, most of the spaces people use can become breeding grounds for pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses. That’s why tools like an autoclave for dental clinics are valuable. These help sterilise dental instruments and even clothing the personnel wear.

Perhaps one of the primary challenges in managing these threats is the lack of more studies. Research on the presence and impact of pathogens in the healthcare setting is not new. It has been around for decades!

Most of these, however, involve healthcare facilities like hospitals and sometimes community centres

or clinics. It is seldom they talk about pathogens in dental settings. Nevertheless, a 2012 study

in the Journal of Oral Microbiology revealed that both the patient and the dentist (as well as the rest of the staff) could be vulnerable to common viral, fungal or bacterial infections.

These include:

  • Viruses that cause HIV and hepatitis infections.
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
  • Myobacterium spp, which can increase the risks of tuberculosis.
  • Herpes virus.
  • Legionella .
  • Mould.

Mode of Transmission

The pathogens can explore numerous pathways to make a patient or a dentist ill. Some of these can spread through the air. A good example is Mycobacterium, which increases the risk of tuberculosis. Another is the bacterium that causes pneumonia.

In many cases, the waterlines provide a thriving environment for these pathogens. This is because they enjoy moisture. An example is Legionella, which can cause Legionnaire’s disease, a type of pneumonia. This bacterium lives in and spreads through water.

Another is through fluid contact. Touching deliberately or accidentally contaminated blood may boost the odds of having the same infection.

The Cost of These Diseases

The impact of a dental-clinic-acquired infection is devastating in many ways. First, it hurts both personal and national economies. It is difficult to find data pertaining to economic costs in the dental setting.

However, studies revolving around hospitals may give everyone an idea.

According to one, medical admissions in Auckland could mean a spending of $10.12 million. Second, many of these bacteria and viruses are prone to mutation, which is a severe problem. It may only lead to higher rates of drug resistance in the country.

Drug resistance is already a pandemic – and it can kill. It means the pathogen that causes the infection does not respond to common medications or antibiotics.

Learning to Control or Prevent These Pathogens

Dental procedure

You cannot wipe out all the harmful microorganisms you encounter, but you can learn to manage their replication or prevent them from wreaking havoc to both the patient and the dentist. These tips include:

  • Get the complete or full oral and medical history of the patient.
  • Identify the correct pathogen causing the problem through lab tests.
  • Sterilise equipment and supplies.
  • Wear the proper equipment.

The body needs some exposure to these harmful microorganisms to improve the body’s microbiome. It trains the immune system to tag the excessive substance the body has to remove.

Factors such as lifestyle, weak immune system, and ageing can make these pathogen’s effects more dangerous for others. Lean on the side of safety by keeping your dental clinic as clean and sterile as possible.

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