Cross-infection control highlighted at dental symposium

|     Danial Norjidi     |

THE Dental Infection Control Symposium 2019 was held yesterday by the Department of Dental Services, Ministry of Health (MoH) in conjunction with World Oral Health Day 2019.

The symposium took place at the MoH’s Al-‘Afiah Hall and was launched by guest of honour Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad Isham bin Haji Jaafar.

Also present were the permanent secretary and deputy permanent secretaries at the MoH, directors-general, directors, officers and staff under the Ministry of Health.

According to a press statement, the symposium carried the theme, ‘Keep Calm, Safety First’, and put emphasis on the importance of safety when providing dental services and treatment to patients and also for all dental professionals that provide treatment. Cross infection can be controlled by practising a ‘Safety First’ work culture.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad Isham bin Haji Jaafar presents the Dental Infection Control Manual to a recipient. – DANIAL NORJIDI

In addition, the symposium was aimed at raising awareness among dental professionals on the importance of cross-infection control especially in government dental clinics throughout the country through methods such as sterilisation of dental equipment, cleaning and disinfection of the environment and other basic aspects such as washing hands and the use of personal protective equipment.

Five speakers comprising local experts and dental officers were invited to deliver presentations.

The symposium was attended by 300 participants, including dental specialists, dental officers, dental nurses, dental technicians and dental assistants serving at the MoH.

The minister said the symposium was hoped to provide useful exposure and knowledge to be practised by all officers and staff at dental services under the MoH in preventing and controlling infection when providing treatment to a patient.

“Among the aspects that need to be given special attention in controlling cross infection during dental treatment is the use of clean and sterile dental instruments,” he said.

“This is very important and dental practitioners must be aware of the dangers of viral infections such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV which can be transmitted from one patient to another if the equipment used is contaminated and not cleaned before use. Infections such as these are the major issues to be considered.”

“Furthermore, with the development of advanced technology, people are always exposed and vulnerable to being influenced to obtain dental treatment services from members of the public who are not registered or accredited who offer dental services through social media.”

As an example, he noted those who offer the fitting of fake braces, conducted at homes, using tools and instruments that are unhygienic and not sterile.

“Unfortunately, most people who receive this treatment from people pretending to be dental practitioners eventually end up having to undergo treatment to deal with complications arising from improper, disorderly, non-hygienic and non-sterile dental treatment.

“I understand that there are other initiatives that have been carried out, including the initiative to control tooth infections by informing the public about dental hygiene in general, the dangers of fake braces through television and radio and, in cooperation with the relevant authorities, taking action against those members of the public who offer and provide irresponsible treatment.

“Such efforts should be continued and strengthened to protect oral health, especially among the citizens and residents of Brunei Darussalam,” he affirmed.

The symposium also saw the minister launching a book – the Dental Infection Control Manual – distributed to dental officers in-charge from each government dental clinic in the country.

Touching on the book in his speech, the minister said, “It aims to disseminate information to all dental officers and staff about the dangers of using instruments that are not clean and not sterile.

“This manual focusses on the essentials that are important to be done before, during and after dental treatment. The use of personal protective equipment, correct and orderly hand washing techniques, dental chair decontamination methods and techniques as well as waste disposal after dental treatment are among the basic items that are described in this manual.

“I hope this manual will be used as a reference to be utilised by all dental officers and staff towards optimal services and patient care, and taking into account the general safety of patients.”

The minister went on to acknowledge that yesterday’s symposium is one of the activities organised by the Department of Dental Services in celebrating the World Oral Health Day, which will be celebrated on March 20 with the theme, ‘Say Ahh: Act on Mouth Health’.

“The theme is to encourage every individual in their own oral health care by taking appropriate actions, such as brushing teeth at least twice a day and doing dental checkups at nearby dental clinics every six months.”

“The activities organised in conjunction with World Oral Health Day will hopefully help educate the public about the wider implications to protect their oral health and to raise awareness among the public on the importance of early detection and treatment of oral diseases and any related health complications.

“I would also like to urge all Department of Dental Services officers and staff especially the Ministry of Health in general to collectively inform the public about oral healthcare and the risks of cross infection,” he added.

Insya Allah, this will increase the public’s confidence in the services rendered and will directly assist us in discharging our responsibilities in the best possible way to strengthen the quality of services rendered in a more productive and excellent direction.”

After the launch of the symposium and the Dental Infection Control Manual, the proceedings continued with two preliminary lectures – one from Dr Hajah Norsuhana binti Haji Sulong on ‘Infection Control in Dental Setting’ and another from Dr Chua Kai Lay entitled ‘Fake Braces Trend Poses Health Risks in Brunei Darussalam’.

The minister then viewed exhibitions highlighting the expert services of pedodontics, periodontics, orthodontics, endodontics, prostodontics, implants, oral surgery services for those with special needs, basic oral care and oral health promotion.

Concurrent lectures then took place. For dental officers, dental nurses and dental surgery assistants there were two lectures – ‘How to take care of your dental chair’ by Dr Hajah Amal Aqilah binti Haji Ajamain and ‘Sterilisation and disinfection of dental instruments’.

For dental technicians, there was a lecture entitled ‘Infection control in dental laboratory’ by Dr Sharon Han Shiou Shin.