Infection control among dentists in private practice in Durban.
The general fear, superstition and alarm surrounding HIV/AIDS warrant that the highest standards of care be available to our patients. A survey on infection control was undertaken in Durban to assess the current state of infection control procedures among dentists in private practice. A self-administered 44-item questionnaire was hand-delivered to a random sample of 75 dentists (31.3%)--see comments in Methods--in private practice. The response rate was 90.7% (68 dentists). The routine use of gloves, masks, and protective eyewear was reported by 97.1%, 82.4% and 52.9% of dentists respectively. Although 89.7% of dentists had autoclaves in their practices, only 45.2% autoclaved their high speed handpieces and 39.7% their slow handpieces. Almost 60% of dentists did not use rubber dam at all whilst 46.3% did not disinfect impressions before sending them to the laboratory. Approximately 6% of respondents reported re-using local anaesthetic cartridges and 1.5% re-used needles. Needlestick injuries in the previous six months were reported by 13.8% of dentists but two thirds of them did not follow any specific protocol after injury. Almost 90 per cent of dentists were immunised against Hepatitis B but more than 60% of their staff were not. The results of the study showed that adherence to universally accepted guidelines for infection control remain low amid a climate of an ever-increasing HIV pandemic.