Call them germs, viruses, bacteria, fungus, or plain ol' “icky” – they are the micro-organisms that can cause infections and disease. Being disease-free from these contaminants is known as “asepsis”, and that is what the dental world strives to achieve.
The strategies to eliminate dental infections depend on many factors. For dental professionals, these can range from the most basic, yet necessary, steps, such as washing hands with soap and water, using gloves during procedures, and using medicine to treat infections if they should start.
Sterilizing equipment and following standard safety procedures are two other important factors. For patients, understanding and engaging in dental hygiene actions, or even just visiting the dentist, also go a long way to preventing and fighting infections and diseases.
But with the differences in the availability, accessibility, and affordability of dental care, preventing and minimizing oral infections may not be as easy as it sounds. How can access to and knowledge of oral healthcare be achieved throughout the world? Through the Organization for Safety, Asepsis, and Prevention (OSAP).
Started in 1984, OSAP is a non-profit organization whose aim is to provide access to safe oral and dental healthcare for everyone, everywhere. How they achieve this is multi-faceted.
Firstly, OSAP is comprised of dental and oral healthcare professional from all areas, ranging from clinicians, dental educators, researchers, plus other industry advocates. Their areas of expertise and different perspectives provide valuable information needed to provide the second point – education. To promote the safe distribution of oral healthcare knowledge and provide an infection alert when needed, OSAP also provides the dissemination of information and education to those who provide dental care and those who receive it.
But there’s more. In addition to having professional guidance and providing education, OSAP also advocates for research, service, and policy creation to ensure the prevention of, control, and treatment of oral infections. To achieve these lofty goals, OSAP raises funds from businesses, foundations, and government to provide an infection alert and further their noble cause.
Concerns about infection, disease, and cross-contamination in the dental world isn’t limited only to OSAP. BIOLASE offers dental lasers that can contribute to the crusade of ridding dental clinics of cross-contamination. As stated in the dental literature, dental burs and root canal files do not always get completely sterilized through autoclaving and other means of ridding infection. Thankfully, BIOLASE’s dental lasers – which can perform the same treatments as dental burs and root canal files – use non-contact, disposable tips that do not require sterilizing after use because they are thrown away. Also, laser energy has been shown in the literature to destroy certain types of microorganisms.
When aiming to eradicate dental infections and ensure safe oral care practices, neither one person nor one group can do it alone. Getting professionals, businesses, and government together to collaborate is the best way to cover all areas related to dental care. OSAP and BIOLASE are two of these entities who are striving to make dental infections a thing of the past.