Ways to Decrease Your Chance of Getting the H1N1 Swine Flu

Ways to Decrease Your Chance of Getting the H1N1 Swine Flu

Everyone is concerned about the H1N1 swine flu and what they can do to decrease the risk of contacting it. The California Dental Hygienists’ Association issued a list of simple ways to prevent catching and spreading of the Swine Flu. Primary transmission of the swine flu is through the respiratory system.

Daphne Von Essen. California Dental Hygienists’ Association president said “The primary infection control goal is to prevent transmission of disease – that begins with the mouth.” She shared the people should avoid sharing toothbrushes or even keeping them in close proximity in the bathroom as they may become a transmission source.

“This is especially true if a family member contracts the flu,” said Von Essen. “We recommend people throw out their old toothbrushes and get new ones if they are either sick or getting over the flu.”  

Secondly they recommend that individuals observe proper respiratory hygiene etiquette. Cough directly in to a tissue, shirt sleeve or elbow rather that the hand. This decreases transmission of the swine flu through further contact with the hands. If you do cough or sneeze into your cupped hand, wash them immediately. Good hand washing on a regular basis will definitely decrease the spread of other infections as well

Dental hygienists, assistants and dentists become the first line of defense when patients visit the dental office. The association recommends the following infection control measures during patient assessment:

1. Having patients with respiratory illness in an isolated room or asking them to return at another time.

2. Use a disposable mask on the infected patient both during treatment and in other office areas.

3. All personnel assessing a patient with respiratory illness should wear disposable surgical face mask,  gloves, gown, and eye protection (e.g., goggles)

5. Good hand washing by personnel and patients.

6. Routine cleaning and disinfection strategies used during influenza seasons can be applied to the environmental management of swine influenza.  

With proper education of dentists and dental hygienists, as well as informing the public about ways to decrease the spread of swine flu, you will be less likely to exposed to the swine flu at the dentist office.