Despite standard disinfection procedures used in hygiene clinics, dental bib clips continue to harbor bacteria from patient, dental clinician and the environment, a new study conducted by Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and the Forsyth Institute researchers reveals.
Although the majority of the thousands of bacteria found on the bib clips immediately after treatment were adequately eliminated through the disinfection procedure, the researchers found that 40% of the bib clips tested post-disinfection retained one or more aerobic bacteria, which can survive and grow in oxygenated environments. They found that 70% of bib clips tested post-disinfection retained one or more anaerobic bacteria, which do not live or grow in the presence of oxygen.
The full study titled "Comprehensive Analysis of Aerobic and Anaerobic Bacteria Found on Dental Bib Clips at Hygiene Clinic" will be published as a supplement to the April issue of Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry, one of the leading dental journals in the U.S., and is now available for download at http://www.dentalbibclipbacteria.com."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," said Addy Alt-Holland, M.Sc., Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the Department of Endodontics at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and the lead researcher on the study.
- Immediately after treatment and before the clips had been disinfected, oral bacteria often associated with chronic and refractory periodontitis were found on 65% of the clips.
- After disinfection, three of the bib clips (15%) still had anaerobic Streptococcus bacteria from the oral cavity and upper respiratory tract. Five percent (5%) of the clips still harbored at least one bacteria from the Staphylococcus, Prevotella and Neisseria species.
- Additionally, after disinfection, nine clips (45%) retained at least one anaerobic bacterial isolate from skin.
This situation can be avoided by thoroughly sterilizing the clips between each patient or by using disposable bib holders."Researchers involved in the study hypothesized that bacteria found on bib clips after patient care could have been transferred from patients and clinicians to the clips in different ways:
- Oral bacteria present in the patient's saliva and the spray or spatter produced during dental treatments may contribute to the presence of bacteria on the disinfected bib clips.
- Bacteria can also be transferred from the gloved hands of dental practitioners to the clips prior to- or during the patient's treatment.
- Bacteria can be transferred from the patient's hands to the clips if the patient touches the clip.
In a previous study published in August 2012 by researchers at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and the Forsyth Institute it was found that 20% to 30% of dental bib clips still harbor aerobic bacterial contaminants even after proper disinfection procedures. Rubber-faced metal bib clips were found to retain more bacteria than bib clips made only of metal immediately after treatment and before disinfection. Four other research reports have found bacterial contamination on dental bib holders, including research conducted by U.S. infection control specialist Dr. John Molinari, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Dentistry Oral Microbiology lab and the University of Witten/Herdecke in Germany.