Main | Evaluating the Evidence »

Surface Disinfectants for the Dental Office

A dental assistant had a question about disinfectants used to clean operatories between patients.

The OSHA guidelines state:

1910.1030(d)(4)(ii) All equipment and environmental and working surfaces shall be cleaned and decontaminated after contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials.

1910.1030(d)(4)(ii)(A) Contaminated work surfaces shall be decontaminated with an appropriate disinfectant after completion of procedures; immediately or as soon as feasible when surfaces are overtly contaminated or after any spill of blood or other potentially infectious materials; and at the end of the work shift if the surface may have become contaminated since the last cleaning.

However, this still didn't answer the question of what an "appropriate disinfectant" is.

After searching for research on PubMed, DARE and the ADA website, I was only able to find one citation: 

Boyce R, Mull J. Complying with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration: guidelines for the dental office. Dent Clin North Am. 2008 Jul;52(3):653-68, PMID: 18501741 on

Under the Housekeeping Section of this article it states, "All potentially contaminated work surfaces must be cleaned with an appropriate cleanser before and after concluding patient visits." This statement is in accord with the OSHA guidelines. However, this article also mentions that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) web site lists approved cleansers that are registered tuberculocides and known to eradicate HBV/HIV.

Now, I was on the hunt for this elusive list of appropriate cleansers... The next step was to search the EPA web site for their standards at

Typing "registered disinfectants" into their search queue reulted in 3,430 results. By scrolling through these results and clicking on results that seemed relevant, I finally found this list after almost four hours of searching for what seemed to be a simple question. This was a VERY time consuming search.

The list of selected registered EPA surface disinfectants is found online at

List E: is a PDF published in January of 2009 of EPA’s Registered Antimicrobial Products Effective Against Mycobacterium tuberculosis Human HIV-1 and Hepatitis B Virus

I compared this list to a dental catalog and was surprised to see that from a long list of disinfectants, only a handful were EPA approved. Is what you are using an appropriate disinfectant? Check the list and find out!

EPA’s Registered Antimicrobial Products Effective Against Mycobacterium tuberculosis Human HIV-1 and Hepatitis B Virus

The ebdLibrary is in the process of being developed to answer these types of questions for practitioners. This resource will provide valuable tools and resources to dentists and their staff so that patient care and office procedures are compliant with current information and can be easily incorporated into everyday decision-making.


Infection Control Today Comparison of Commonly Used Surface Disinfectants

Center for Disease Control (CDC) 2008 EB Guidelines for Disinfection and Sterilization

CDC Table of Methods of Sterilization and Disinfection

CDC Guideline of Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities Nov 2008

CDC Recommended Infection Control Practices for Dentistry



EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (2)

I just hope that Dental facilities would comply to OSHA because it's the health and lives of patients are at stake here. People nowadays are also keen as to the kind of service and safety that they wanted.

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPediatric Dentist Mesa

hey i like the post..i need some suggestions..i want to know as i am mother what things should remain in my mind for my daughter health specially for her teeth..she is 10 years old....

February 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDental Hygienist Salary
Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.