Can We Break The Chain Of Germs At The Dentist?

Whether we mean to or not, we all observe the dentist or dental hygienist bring out a new package of freshly sterilized dental tools. This act reassures us that we are being treated with clean instruments. What we may not pay attention to, or what might be harder to notice, is whether the chain around our necks that fastens bibs in place has been sterilized between every use.

Multiple studies last year identified bacteria on bib chains that were not properly cleaned. A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Dentistry study found that one in five bib clips were contaminated with a significant presence of microorganisms such as pseudomonas, E. Coli or staphylococcus aureus (a common cause of staph infections).

It sounds scary, but by simply rinsing the chain and then completely immersing it to soak in an EPA-registered disinfectant for the proper amount of time, dental professionals can rid the chains of germs and minimize the risk of cross contamination. Furthermore, there is growing interest in using disposable one-time-use bib holders that do not require such sanitation. If given the choice, which would you prefer, a sanitized bib chain or a disposable one?