Online Poll Indicates 69% of People Think It's Very Important that Dental Bib Clips Be Bacteria-free

Majority of Public Expect All Dental Equipment To Be Sterile and Free of Bacteria

Jun 25, 2013, 10:00 ET from

OXNARD, Calif., June 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Recent news reports about un-safe practices at a number of U.S. dentist offices have raised concerns about dental infection control procedures and caused patients to question the safety of the dental offices they visit. A recent web poll, conducted at, shows that 69% of people think it's very important that the dental bib holder and all dental equipment be bacteria-free.

"Since recent news broke about irresponsible dentists who don't follow proper dental safety procedures, a lot of patients have asked what things they should watch for when they are at the dentist to minimize their risk of infection," said Noel Brandon-Kelsch, a registered dental hygienist and the infection control columnist for RDH magazine. "The results of this poll show that patients know how important a clean dental environment is and they assume dental professionals will meet those expectations for complete hygiene."

Kelsch points out that one step patients can take to minimize the risk of infection is to request a one-time-use, disposable bib clip on patients. A recent study found that a significant proportion of dental bib clips, the metal or rubber clips that go around the patient's neck to hold the dental napkin in place, harbor bacteria from the patient, dental clinician and the environment even after the clips have undergone standard disinfection procedures. Four other research reports have also found bacterial contamination on dental bib holders.

The poll conducted on asked visitors to the site to answer questions about their expectations of cleanliness at the dental office and their willingness to ask for a disposable bib holder. The complete results of the poll were as follows:

  • 69% of respondents said they felt it was "very important" for the dental bib holder to be thoroughly disinfected and that they expect all the equipment used by the dentist or hygienist to be sterile and bacteria-free.
  • 31% said that is was "somewhat important" for the dental bib holder to be thoroughly disinfected and that they would prefer everything used during dental treatment to be sterile, but understood if it was not possible.
  • None of the respondents said that it was "not important" for the dental bib holder to be thoroughly disinfected.
  • 76% of respondents indicated they would ask their dentist or hygienist to use a disposable bib holder on them at their next dental appointment. 24% of the respondents said they would not ask for a disposable holder.

"Patients should start a conversation with their dental professional about infection control procedures," adds Kelsch. "A good hygienist or dentist is happy to answer questions and put their patients at ease that they are doing everything possible to minimize infection and eliminate cross contamination." Kelsch also recommends patients follow these tips to minimize their exposure to infection at the dentist office.

  • Request a disposable, one-time-use bib holder from your dental professional.
  • If a disposable bib holder isn't available, ask the clinician to fully sterilize the rubber or metal bib holder.
  • Always make sure the clinician washes their hands and puts on fresh gloves before beginning treatment in your mouth. If the clinician touches anything else with his/her gloves – the bib clip, the computer, his or her face – the patient has the right to ask their dental professional to change their gloves.
  • Make sure you see the dental professional open a fresh sterilization pouch of instruments.   If you don't see it opened in front of you, ask how the instruments you see were sterilized. All dental instruments used on a patient should be sterile.
  • Make sure you see that the dental professional is wearing gloves, a lab coat over their uniform, glasses and a mask during all procedures, including a cleaning. If you notice something is missing, give him or her a friendly reminder.

For more information and tips on minimizing the risk of infection from the dentist office visit