There is no denying that in modern times hygiene is a top priority. Be it the use or Purel stands in public places or by providing disinfectant wipes in libraries, sanitation is something that is always considered. This is the case especially in medical and dental facilities. Or, at least it should be. In dental practices world wide, dental bibs play an important role-keeping patients clothes clean from all splatter and debris that may be generated during a procedure. However, they do little prevent the spread of infection. In fact recent studies conducted at the though they effectively keep patients superficially clean the hygiene of these tools have been brought into question.
A University of North Carolina Study
A recent study at the University of North Carolina made a startling observation. After testing 50 different bib chains (the non-disposable section used to attach the bib to the patient) from various dental centers it was discovered that 1 in 5 are contaminated with what are referred to as "significant microorganisms". These included E. coli, pseudomonas and Staph, each of which can be potentially fatal.
To give a better context to just how filthy these items were consider this. After testing the dental bibs the research team analyzed the bathroom floor of a large airport. Shockingly the reported level of bacteria on both surfaces was roughly the same. Though this is rather disgusting to consider, some may question whether patients are actually at risk from these bacteria. After all, the chains are not used in the mouth and only make contact with a patient's neck. The real concern involved with these microorganisms is cross contamination.
The following is an example of how cross contamination can be dangerous. A chain is used for several weeks to attach dental bibs to a number of different patients. In this time it accumulates hair, particles from neck acne, sweat residue as well as blood and saliva from the procedure. Each one of these potentially exposes the chain to a new bacterium. When reused on a new patient without proper disinfecting these bacteria are in turn transferred to the neck areas of new patients. If these patients touch their necks and then brush their lips or rub their eyes they are at a substantial risk of cross-contamination
Types of Bacteria Found
As explained above, a number of different harmful microorganisms were found on different dental bib chains. These included, but were not limited to:
Escherichia Coli -More commonly referred to as E. Coli this is a bacteria that comes in a variety of strains. Certain strains are harmless residing in the livers of hosts. Other strains are more dangerous. These virulent varieties can be linked to a number of fatal diseases including neonatal meningitis, urinary tract infections and gastroenteritis.
Staphylococcus Aureus -More commonly known as Staph, this is another bacteria that ranges in it's threat level. Certain strains are very common and occur on the outer skin with only minor symptoms. Others, like the famous MRSA strain, can cause a variety of potentially lethal ailments. These inclue pneumonia, toxic shock syndrome, chest pain, bacteremia, meningitis, osteomyelitis, endocarditis, and sepsis.
Pseudomonas -Pseudomonas are a class of bacteria known to thrive in a wide range of environments. Its main symptoms include inflammation and sepsis. Though not always harmful, if affecting vital organs, such as the lungs, it can be fatal.