Infection control in South African oral hygiene practice.
OBJECTIVE: The aim was to gain information about the practice of infection control in oral hygiene practice. METHODS: A questionnaire based on OSHA and CDC guidelines was submitted to oral hygienists who attended a refresher course followed by a second posted questionnaire seeking information about hand hygiene practice. The questions were directed to observance of personal protection by oral hygienists and the application of procedures required for infection control in the surgery. RESULTS: 87.5% wore face masks but the proper use of facial protection, overcoats and disposable overcoats was reported by fewer than 50%. A total of 97% wore gloves and 88% changed gloves between patients. Skin reactions to gloves were reported by 26%. Only 7% had not been vaccinated against hepatitis B. The correct procedures for sterilising equipment and instruments were carried out by fewer than 50%, and 57% of participants wanted an improvement of infection control arrangements in their workplace. CONCLUSION: It is concluded that a need exists for proper practice of infection control by oral hygienists which can be remedied by interceptive and preventive education and peer pressure.