Glasgow leads the way as dentists give germs the brush-off

Published: 18 November 2008

Dentists from around the UK will gather in Glasgow this week to discuss new ways of preventing infectious agents such as vCJD and MRSA spreading within dental surgeries.

Dentists from around the UK will gather in Glasgow this week to discuss new ways of preventing infectious agents such as vCJD and MRSA spreading within dental surgeries.

The 3rd National Conference of Infection Control in Dental Practice, which takes place on Friday 21 November at the SECC, is expected to attract 400 dental professionals who will hear the latest scientific evidence and knowledge on infection prevention and control.

The conference has been organised by Dr Andrew Smith from the Infection Research Group, Faculty of Medicine, University of Glasgow. The Infection Research Group based at Glasgow Dental School is leading the way in researching and developing new ways of improving infection prevention and control in Scotland’s dental surgeries.

Infection prevention and decontamination of surgical equipment is a hot topic in dentistry at present with the Scottish Government having recently published guidelines and offering grants for upgrading instrument decontamination facilities at every surgery in Scotland.

The guidelines call for surgeries to conduct cleaning and sterilisation of all re-usable surgical instruments in a dedicated local decontamination unit away from patient treatment areas to prevent the spread of infectious agents such as MRSA, hepatitis B and vCJD (the human form of BSE).

Reducing the spread of MRSA, often associated with hospitals, but increasingly found in the general population, is an important priority. In addition, accurate figures on the number of people carrying the vCJD prion are not known but may be as high as one in 10,000 people so it is important that high standards of infection prevention are applied to all patients, since it will not be possible to detect patients who carry many infectious diseases.

Dr Andrew Smith, Senior Lecturer and Consultant Microbiologist at Glasgow Dental School, said: “Infection prevention and control is at the top of the agenda for all healthcare professionals, including dental practitioners.

“Infectious agents such as MRSA are no longer restricted to hospitals but can also be found in the community. It is vital that all healthcare premises are designed to limit the spread of infection and this conference will provide delegates with a state-of-the-art update on current recommendations and guidelines for dental practices.

“Conference delegates will also hear the latest advice on how to improve their instrument decontamination facilities and how to avoid common pitfalls when re-designing dental surgeries.”

Scotland’s dentists, with the aid of the Health Department, are leading the way in Europe in improving instrument cleaning and sterilisation processes. The last eight years have seen significant investments in upgrading facilities in hospitals and in primary care to reduce the chance of transmission of infectious agents through surgical instruments.

For more information, contact Stuart Forsyth in the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 3535 or email

Notes to editors:

For further information on the day and a programme please visit or contact: Carolyn Fraser, CPD Manager, University of Glasgow on 0796 656 1474 or before the 21 November 2008 on 0141 201 9264.

Key conference speakers and topics include:

• Dental surgery design: Past and present – Dr Andrew Smith from Glasgow Dental School will review the history and previous literature on dental surgery design.
• Alan Heatlie, Technical Lead DUPAD Project, Health Protection Scotland will speak on the Scottish Health Planning Note 13.
• Dr Mike Simmons, Director of Health Protection, National Public Health Service for Wales will give an overview of decontamination progress in Wales and how it relates to dental services.
• Dr Caroline Pankhurst, Clinical Lecturer in Oral Medicine, King's College will talk on a PCT-based model for an integrated approach to infection control.
• Dr Will Coulter, Reader/Consultant in Oral Microbiology, Queens University, Belfast will cover the Northern Ireland experience.
• David Hurrell, Microbiologist, Healthcare Science Ltd on 1st steps in redesign – process mapping, and capacity calculations.
• Jeremy Armitage, Architect, Armitage Associates, Glasgow on creating the ideal local decontamination unit and guidelines.

• John Moodie, NHS National Services Scotland will talk on procuring & testing decontamination equipment.
• Fiona Kennedy, Director, Applied Management Systems Ltd on quality issues.
• Irene Black, Dental Adviser (Decontamination) NHS Education for Scotland, will discuss the need to ensure the processes employed with in LDU’s are optimal, she will also describe the work that her infection control support team at NES are involved in and their experience so far.
• Mark McCutcheon, GDP, practice owner in Edinburgh, will talk on the Lothian LDU pilots – what have we learned together with the experience of designing over 40 LDU's in non-salaried dental premises in Lothian.

First published: 18 November 2008