By Amy Ayers, BS, RDH
As a human, our hands are pretty important. As a dental professional, they’re mandatory!
When it comes to selecting items for Professional Hand Safety, use your head! Utility gloves are meant to protect you from SHARPS and CHEMICALS, not butter knives and dish detergent. Exam gloves aren’t going to provide the level of protection you need. Utility gloves need to be made from strong material such as rubber, nitrile, or latex and be given worthy titles such as “puncture resistant” and “heavy duty”. The right type may not be available at Walgreens. Yes, it’d be nice if they carried them, but we can’t have everything.
Sharing is not caring here: every dental professional should have his or her own pair. Ask the representative for a selection of sizes, because these gloves need to fit their intended owner. Assign one pair of gloves to remain in the Sterilization Area, just in case.
As for where you’ll store them, it depends on your space. It makes the most sense to store them in your operatory, because that’s where you’ll first put them on to take the patient’s contaminated instruments to the Sterilization Area. You will put the cassette into the ultrasonic tank or thermal washer and return to your op, where you’ll disinfect all surfaces using a spray or wipe. Remember to have your mask, safety eyewear, and a protective jacket while using that chemical!
After using them to disinfect your operatory, they need to be disinfected. “Using what product?” you ask. Before you toss the glove packaging, see what the manufacturer recommends. That’s the only way you can ensure that those germs are dying AND that a chemical is not slowly eating away at those protective layers you’ve paid extra for! If your gloves are cracking or peeling, you can kiss Hand Safety good-bye.
Wash the gloves with the recommended soap, rinse, and dry with paper towels. Carefully remove them without touching the outside of the glove: they’re not sterile! Lay them on a paper towel, and then spray or wipe them, using the recommended disinfectant. Hang them by the fingertips so that they completely dry on the inside from your skilled yet sweaty hands, because the gloves can begin to stink. Some manufacturers allow sterilization of the gloves for a limited number of times: again, check with the manufacturer!
Finally, D is for Document…what is your office policy regarding these gloves? This policy will be stored in your OSHA manual, just in case those wonderful folks come by to check in on Worker Safety.
Take care of those bad boys: it’s going to be very hard to work in dentistry without them!
For more info, call Modern Practice Solutions at (931) 232-7738, or visit us online at www.OliviaWann.com.
Pictures: Courtesy of Pixabay