5 Ways to Reduce the Spread of Infection in a Dental Surgery

Discover 5 essential ways to prevent infection in dental surgeries, from seamless flooring to smart storage solutions, for a safer practice.

5 Ways to Reduce the Spread of Infection in a Dental Surgery

As a dentist, you are well aware of the immense responsibility you bear to prevent the spread of infection in your practice.

With numerous patients passing through your dental surgery daily, the potential for transmitting infectious pathogens is quite high. Here's why rigorous infection control is non-negotiable:

  • Proper sterilisation methods and surface asepsis are crucial to ensure the safety of your patients and staff.
  • The close proximity required for dental procedures, along with droplets and aerosols, significantly increases the risk of cross-infection.
  • Your constant vigilance and adherence to strict infection prevention protocols are key to mitigating this risk.
  • Following evidence-based guidelines from authoritative bodies like the CQC is essential to standardise and optimise infection control procedures.

Implementing robust infection control measures requires a thorough assessment of your dental surgery layout, equipment, workflows and supplies.

Evaluating options through the lens of cleaning, disinfection and sterility is key.

In this article, we will examine five important aspects of your dental surgery design that can help prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

Optimising these key areas will help you transform your office into a fortress against infection.

Key Takeaways:

  • Seamless Flooring: Opt for heat-sealed, coved flooring to minimise infection risks and make cleaning more effective.
  • Adequate Ventilation: Implement a ventilation system that achieves at least 10 air changes per hour to significantly reduce airborne pathogens.
  • Streamlined Work Surfaces: Use continuous, non-porous work surfaces to prevent the accumulation of bacteria and facilitate easy disinfection.
  • Hygienic Cabinetry: Install knee-operated cabinetry doors to minimise contact and maintain sink temperatures at 20-40 degrees for effective cleaning.
  • Smart Storage Solutions: Employ dispensers for disposables and PPE within cabinets to maintain hygiene and reduce waste.
  • Smooth Wall Surfaces: Ensure walls have smooth surfaces for easy cleaning and reduced dust accumulation.
  • Dust Management: Assign clear responsibilities for regular dusting to maintain a clean and allergen-free environment.

1. Flooring: The Foundation of a Sterile Environment

The flooring in your dental surgery serves as the foundation for infection prevention.

Floors are prone to accumulating dust, debris and spatter during dental procedures.

Contaminants that gather on floors can harbour pathogens and get dispersed into the air or tracked around on shoes. This increases infection transmission risk.

To combat this, dental flooring options such as seamless, heat-sealed vinyl floors without grout lines are recommended.

5 Ways to Reduce the Spread of Infection in a Dental Surgery

Coved flooring with capped edges that extend partially up the walls creates an impervious, seamless surface that prevents liquids and dust from seeping underneath.

Smooth, continuous surfaces are easier to clean and disinfect compared to tile or wood floors with grout lines and gaps that can trap debris.

Proper cleaning protocols using specialist cleaning agents should be implemented.

Floors must be kept dry to eliminate slip hazards and impede microbial growth.

Choosing durable, easy-to-clean flooring creates a hygienic foundation for your dental surgery that resists contamination build-up. This prevents infectious particles from circulating during dental procedures.

Your flooring sets the stage for effective infection control throughout the dental practice.

2. Ventilation: The Invisible Barrier Against Infection

When you think of infection control in your dental surgery, the first things that might come to mind are sterilisation methods, personal protective equipment and surface cleaning.

But have you ever considered the air you breathe? Yes, the very air that circulates within your practice plays a pivotal role in infection control.

Why 10 Air Changes Per Hour Matter

The recommendation of 10 air changes per hour (ACH) is derived from rigorous studies and guidelines set by health organisations.

This specific rate of air change ensures a systematic dilution of airborne contaminants, thereby reducing the concentration of aerosols and pathogens in the environment.

With dental procedures generating a significant amount of aerosols, it becomes imperative to have a ventilation rate that can effectively mitigate the accumulation of these particles.

A higher ACH ensures that these aerosols are rapidly diluted and removed from the treatment area, reducing the dwell time of potential pathogens and minimising the risk of airborne transmission.

Furthermore, achieving 10 ACH also aids in maintaining a positive pressure environment.

This means that the air pressure inside the dental surgery is slightly higher than outside, preventing the ingress of contaminated air from adjacent areas.

Such a controlled environment is crucial in ensuring that the surgical area remains as sterile as possible, safeguarding both patients and dental professionals.

Dental Ventilation: More Than Just Fresh Air

As a dental practice design company, we can't stress enough the importance of proper dental ventilation.

It's not just about bringing in fresh air; it's about ensuring that the air is clean, free from pathogens, and circulates efficiently throughout the practice.

5 Ways to Reduce the Spread of Infection in a Dental Surgery

Modern ventilation systems are designed to filter out contaminants, ensuring that the air your staff and patients breathe is of the highest quality.

With procedures like drilling, the generation of aerosols is inevitable. These tiny droplets can harbour pathogens and remain suspended in the air for extended periods.

Efficient ventilation acts as a protective barrier, ensuring these aerosols are diluted and removed from the environment, safeguarding both your team and your patients.

As you invest in state-of-the-art dental equipment and training, don't overlook the importance of optimising your ventilation system.

It's an investment in health, safety and peace of mind.

3. Work Surfaces: The Hub of Dental Procedures

In the bustling environment of a dental surgery, work surfaces are more than just countertops - they're the operational hub.

From holding dental instruments to being a quick rest for clinicians' elbows, these surfaces see a lot of action.

Here's where the magic of continuous work surfaces comes into play:

Benefits of Continuous Work Surfaces:

  • Hygiene: Without gaps or seams, continuous surfaces offer fewer places for bacteria and debris to hide, making them easier to clean and disinfect.
  • Durability: These surfaces are designed to withstand the wear and tear of daily dental procedures, ensuring longevity.
  • Efficiency: A seamless surface allows for smoother workflows, reducing the chances of instruments or materials getting caught in gaps.
  • Aesthetics: Continuous surfaces provide a sleek and modern look, enhancing the overall aesthetics of the dental surgery.

Continuous vs. Non-Continuous Surfaces

Feature Continuous Surface Non-Continuous Surface
Hygiene Easier to clean due to lack of seams Potential for debris accumulation in gaps
Maintenance Lower maintenance needs Regular maintenance required for gaps/seams
Durability High resistance to wear and tear Potential for wear at seams/gaps
Workflow Efficiency Smooth workflow without interruptions Potential for disruptions due to gaps

Incorporating Continuous Surfaces in Dental Surgeries

When considering a renovation or setting up a new dental practice, it's worth investing in continuous work surfaces.

Not only do they offer practical benefits in terms of hygiene and efficiency, but they also elevate the overall look and feel of the space.


  • Disinfection: Continuous surfaces, being easier to clean, align well with the rigorous disinfection protocols of dental surgeries.
  • Customisation: Modern suppliers offer customised solutions, ensuring that the work surface fits perfectly within the available space and meets the specific needs of the dental practice.

While the choice of work surface might seem like a minor detail, it plays a pivotal role in the overall functionality and aesthetics of a dental surgery.

5 Ways to Reduce the Spread of Infection in a Dental Surgery

Continuous surfaces, with their myriad benefits, are fast becoming the gold standard in modern dental practices.

4. Cabinetry: Doors and Sinks

Every element in a dental surgery, no matter how seemingly mundane, has a role to play in the grand symphony of patient care.

Cabinetry, often overlooked, is not just about storage or aesthetics; it's about ensuring seamless operations and upholding the highest standards of hygiene.

From the innovative knee-operated doors to the humble sinks, let's delve into the world of cabinetry and discover how it shapes the dental experience.

Knee-Operated Cabinetry Doors:

  • Hands-Free Operation: In a setting where cleanliness is paramount, being able to access cabinets without using hands minimises the risk of contamination.
  • Efficiency: No need to put down instruments or materials. A simple nudge with the knee, and voil√†, the cabinet opens!
  • Safety: Reduces the chances of accidental spills or drops as practitioners don't have to juggle instruments while opening cabinets.
  • Ergonomics: Designed by keeping the natural movements of dental professionals in mind, ensuring comfort and ease of use.

Why are Knee-Operated Doors Recommended?

In the fast-paced environment of a dental surgery, every second counts.

Knee-operated doors offer a seamless blend of functionality and hygiene. They ensure that the workflow isn't interrupted, and the risk of cross-contamination is significantly reduced.

Sinks: More Than Just a Basin

Sinks in a dental surgery are not just for washing hands.

Their frequent use in cleaning instruments and rinsing makes them a hotspot for potential contaminants.

Cleaning sinks at the ideal temperature range of 20-40 degrees ensures effective removal of pathogens without causing wear to the sink material.

5 Ways to Reduce the Spread of Infection in a Dental Surgery

Types of Dental Sinks:

  • Corian Sinks: Known for their seamless finish, Corian sinks offer a smooth, non-porous surface that's resistant to microbial growth. Their seamless design ensures there are no crevices for debris or bacteria to hide, making them a top choice for many dental surgeries.
  • Stainless Steel Sinks: Durable and robust, stainless steel sinks are designed to withstand the rigours of a busy dental practice. Their shiny surface is not just about aesthetics; it's easy to clean and disinfect.

A noteworthy feature of best-practice dental sinks is the absence of overflows.

This design choice aligns with the requirements set out in the HTM 01-05 guidelines, ensuring that there's no hidden space for water or contaminants to accumulate.

While sinks might seem like a basic fixture, their role in maintaining a sterile environment in dental surgeries is paramount.

Choosing the right type of sink, coupled with proper cleaning protocols, can significantly elevate the standard of infection control in any dental practice.

5. Dispensers and Storage: Organising for Safety

In the intricate ballet of a dental procedure, every move is choreographed for precision and safety.

And in this dance, the unsung heroes are often the dispensers and storage solutions that ensure everything is at arm's reach, yet safely stored away.

The Role of Dispensers in Dental Surgeries:

Dispensers play a pivotal role in ensuring that disposables and PPE are easily accessible, yet stored in a manner that prevents contamination.

Here's why they're indispensable:

  • Efficiency: Having disposables and PPE readily available reduces the time spent searching for them, streamlining procedures.
  • Hygiene: Dispensers, especially those within cabinets, protect items like gloves, cups and paper towels from potential contaminants.
  • Conservation: By dispensing items one at a time, they reduce wastage and ensure that supplies last longer.

Types of Dispensers:

  • Disposables Dispensers: Designed to hold items that are used once and then discarded, these dispensers ensure that items like masks, gowns, and caps are always within reach.
  • PPE Storage: Personal Protective Equipment is crucial for the safety of both the dental professional and the patient. Dedicated PPE storage solutions ensure that items are not only easily accessible but also stored in a way that maintains their integrity.
  • Cabinet Dispensers: These are often built into cabinetry and are designed to hold frequently used items. Their location within cabinets ensures that these items remain uncontaminated until they're needed.

While dispensers and storage solutions might seem like mere fixtures, they play a crucial role in ensuring that dental surgeries run smoothly and safely.

5 Ways to Reduce the Spread of Infection in a Dental Surgery

Investing in the right dispensers and storage solutions can significantly elevate the standard of care and efficiency in any dental practice.

Additional Considerations

Walls: The Importance of Smooth Surfaces

In the quest for impeccable infection control, even the walls play a part.

Smooth wall surfaces offer several advantages:

  • Easy Cleaning: Without crevices or textures, cleaning and disinfecting become straightforward.
  • Reduced Contaminant Accumulation: Bacteria and viruses find it challenging to cling to smooth surfaces, reducing the risk of contamination.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Beyond functionality, smooth walls give a clean, modern look to the dental surgery, enhancing the patient experience.

Dust Management: If it's Going to Gather Dust, Who Will Clean It?

Dust isn't just an eyesore; it can be a breeding ground for pathogens.

Effective dust management is crucial for:

  • Maintaining Air Quality: Regular dusting and cleaning ensure that the air remains free of potential allergens and contaminants.
  • Preventing Surface Contamination: Dust on surfaces can become a medium for bacterial growth, especially if it mixes with moisture.
  • Assigning Responsibility: It's essential to designate who will be responsible for dusting and cleaning. Whether it's a dedicated staff member or a cleaning service, having a clear plan ensures that dust doesn't accumulate.


In the intricate world of dental surgeries, every detail matters, especially when it comes to infection control.

To recap, the five pivotal ways to reduce the spread of infection are:

  • Flooring: Seamless designs prevent microbial growth and facilitate easy cleaning.
  • Ventilation: Ensuring 10 air changes per hour minimises airborne contaminants.
  • Work Surfaces: Continuous surfaces reduce crevices where bacteria can hide.
  • Cabinetry: Knee-operated doors and optimal sink temperatures enhance hygiene.
  • Dispensers and Storage: Organised storage solutions ensure easy access and reduced contamination.

By focusing on these aspects, dental surgeries can offer a safe, hygienic environment for both patients and staff, reinforcing the commitment to excellence in dental safety.

Contact us at Eclipse Dental for personalised advice or assistance in improving your dental surgery's infection control standards.

we are dedicated to enabling your practice to meet the highest performance levels while ensuring adherence to CQC guidelines.

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