All gloved up – Rebecca Waters Category Manager, Initial MedicalFeatured Products Promotional Features
Posted by: The Probe 18th September 2019
In a dental practice, wearing gloves during treatment is of paramount importance. After all, these items are often the first line of defence against certain bacteria and viruses.
But when it comes to gloves there are other aspects that should be considered too such as comfort and material. Otherwise, you may be using gloves that are not perfect for you, and this may lead to unintended compliance issues.
Protect your hands
Of course, the primary use of gloves is to protect hands from substances such as blood and saliva, both of which can carry a number of different conditions. Blood, in particular, can carry dangerous viruses such as HIV or Hepatitis, but saliva can also harbour some problematic infections such as herpes or hand, foot and mouth disease.[i]
Dentists are at a direct risk of contracting these diseases without appropriate protection due to the nature of the tools used. Scalers and handpieces often cause a fine spray of blood or saliva when used in patients’ mouths, and, if hands are left unprotected, any pathogens in this spray can get into any small cuts or areas of weakness around the fingernails and enter the bloodstream. Ungloved hands may also spread these contaminants to other surfaces in the practice, putting more people at risk.
Studies have confirmed that gloves are an effective barrier against these threats, reducing the bacteria present on hands by more than 80%.[ii]However, good hand hygiene remains essential alongside wearing gloves in order to prevent bacteria and other pathogens from spreading. This is especially useful to remember as any gloves that have tears or small holes in them do not provide complete protection.
Materials make a difference
It may be the case that you haven’t considered the materials that the gloves you use are made of. However, this is important, especially as certain materials can pose dangers to some people.
Latex gloves, for example, may be a popular choice, but it’s estimated that as many as 1-6% of the general population have latex sensitivity. Furthermore, as this allergy is caused by the proteins within natural rubber latex, people can develop sensitivity to the material over time. This means that practitioners who regularly wear latex gloves have an increased chance of developing a sensitivity to the material, which is why the figure among healthcare workers stands at 8-12%.[iii]
The severity of the effects caused by latex sensitivity vary, but some of the associated symptoms include skin redness, hives and itching. Latex sensitivity can also cause respiratory problems such as a runny nose, itchy eyes and asthma, and those who are severely affected may even go into shock.
As such, it’s a good idea to ascertain whether either staff or patients have any latex allergies and to have gloves made from different materials available in these situations.
Another thing to watch out for when buying gloves is how the materials react with any chemicals/disinfectants that you use regularly. Some glove materials can react to chemicals present in products, and this may result in holes or other weaknesses in the material that can let bacteria in if unnoticed.
Follow the correct protocols
Gloves are only truly effective if they are used properly. That means wearing a new pair of gloves for every patient, and practising proper hand washing between replacing pairs. If a glove is found to be torn, it’s necessary to remove the glove (don’t double glove) and wash your hands before putting on a new pair.
It may seem obvious, but it’s also a good idea to have a variety of sizes for gloves available. Badly fitting gloves will either tear if hands are too big, or be too loose and therefore not provide adequate protection if too small. Your whole team need to be properly protected.
It’s also a good idea to use any chemical resistant gloves available when you are cleaning or sterilising equipment, especially if you are using harsh cleaning materials.
Powder, perfume and more
Although we tend to think about how gloves affect clinicians in terms of comfort, it’s also important to see gloves from a patient perspective too. Whether you choose powdered or non-powdered gloves is likely to be a personal preference, but powdered gloves can cause some negative side effects for patients, including setting off conditions such as asthma. It is for this reason that these gloves are becoming banned in some places or falling out of use.[iv]
Understanding that the gloves chosen by clinicians will vary due to necessity as well as personal preferences, Initial Medical offers a wide range of gloves to suit all situations. Including latex, non-latex, nitrile and vinyl options, the gloves are available in a huge array of colours and sizes, can be powdered or powder-free and can even be fragranced with peppermint to make for a better patient experience.
In the end, regardless of the gloves you choose it’s important to emphasise their use within your practice. By wearing gloves and following protocols, you can effectively restrict the spread of pathogens.
For further information please visit www.initial.co.uk/medicalor Tel: 0870 850 4045
[i]Very Well Health. Infectious Diseases That Spread Through Saliva. Link: https://www.verywellhealth.com/kiss-of-deathor-diseases-1958924[Last accessed May 19].
[ii]Dentistry Today. Gloves in the Dental Office. Link: https://www.dentistrytoday.com/infection-control/1319–sp-602552556[Last accessed May 19].
[iii]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Latex Allergy. Link: https://www.cdc.gov/healthcommunication/toolstemplates/entertainmented/tips/LatexAllergy.html[Last accessed May 19].
[iv]Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. FDA Proposes Ban on Most Powdered Medical Gloves. Link: https://community.aafa.org/blog/fda-proposes-ban-on-most-powdered-medical-gloves[Last accessed May 19].
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