Dental practitioners are exposed occupationally to infectious materials. The aim of the study was to obtain comprehensive information about attitudes and practices of Lithuanian general dental practitioners (GDPs) regarding infection control and use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Material and methods: A confidential, self administered questionnaire was send to all 2235 Lithuanian general dental practitioners. The questionnaire collected data on sociodemographic characteristics, practice time, working place and environment, attitudes regarding infection control, hand hygiene, wearing of gloves, masks, protective eyewear/face shield, and reasons of ignoring of infection control procedures. Results: Overall response rate was 64.7% (87.4% of them were women; 64.1% were working in five major cities of Lithuania and 60.8% in privat clinics. Mean age of repondents was 44.8 (range 23 – 74 years). As much as 95.3% dentists expressed concern about the risk of cross-infection from patients to themselves and their dental assistants. Respondents reported: handwashing before treating patients and after deglowing (83.0%); always wearing gloves (85.3%); changing gloves after each patient (92.8%); using masks (75.1%) and protective eyerwear/face shield (49.4%); changing masks after each patient (28.0%). Insufficient use of PPE was associated mostly with limited resources and shortage of equipment. Even 51.5% of respondents who do not change masks thought they did not become infected. Multifactorial logistic regression analysis revealed significant predictors of “inappropriate infection control procedures”: longer time of practicing, working at community clinics and outside of five biggest cities of Lithuania. Conclusions. Improvements in infection control procedures as use of personal protective equipment are necessary in dental practice. The main causes of inappropriate infection control in dental offices were recognized as limited resources especially in community clinics and lack of knowledge according to masks changing habits.
Keyword(s): Infection control, dentistry, personal protective equipment
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