According to a study1 in the American Journal of Infection Control, traditional detergent-based cleaning is an effective method to reduce methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) contamination on dental chairs; equally effective as 2 other methods that are more costly, impractical or potentially toxic.
After artificially contaminating a dental chair with MRSA using an aerosol spray, researchers compared 3 different decontamination protocols:
- single use barriers (a full-chair sleeve in plastic material)
- disinfection (cleaned with a cloth soaked with soap, then with diluted bleach, and rinsed twice with tap water)
- cleaning (cleaned with a cloth soaked with soap and rinsed twice with tap water).
The study found that all 3 methods were equally effective, resulting in a 99.8% mean decrease in MRSA density. None of the methods were successful in totally eradicating MRSA.
Even though MRSA infection rates are low among dental health care providers and patients, MRSA continues to be a concern in the dental clinic because it can cause serious, life-threatening infections in patients more vulnerable to infection. Given the large number of people receiving dental treatment each year and the ability of MRSA to persist in the environment for more than 3 months, efforts to control MRSA remain important.
In health care settings, MRSA mainly spreads through the hands of health care personnel. However, it can also be transmitted indirectly through contamination of surfaces, such as switches, light handles, dental radiology equipment and dental chairs.
- Petti S, Polimeni A, Dancer SJ. Effect of disposable barriers, disinfection, and cleaning on controlling methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus environmental contamination. Am J Infect Control 2013:41(9):836-40. Epub 2013 Feb 1.