ASEPTIC TECHNIQUES AND UNIVERSAL PRECAUTIONS
Different terms are used to describe various means of preventing infection. However, despite their differing definitions, terms such as disinfection arid sterilization are often used interchangeably. This can lead to the misconception that a certain technique or chemical has sterilized an
object when it has merely reduced the level of contamination.
Therefore the dental team must be aware of the precise definition of words used for the various techniques of asepsis.
Sepsis is the breakdown of living tissue by the action of microorganisms and is usually accompanied by inflammation. Thus the mere presence of microorganisms, such as in bacteremia, does not constitute .a septic state. Asepsis refers to the avoidance of sepsis. Medical asepsis is the attempt to keep patients, health care staff, and objects as free as possible of agents that cause infection. Surgicai asepsis is the attempt to prevent microbes from gaining access to traumatic surgically created wounds.
Antiseptic and disinfectant are terms that are often miused. Both refer to substances that can prevent the multiplication of organisms capable of causing infection. The difference is that antiseptics are applied to living tissue, whereas disinfectan ts are designed for use on inanimate objects.
Sterilityis the freedom from viable forms of microorganisms. It represents an absolute state; there are no degrees of sterility. Sanitization is the reduction of the number of viable microorganisms to levels judgedsafe by
public health standards. It should not be confused with sterilization. Decontamination is similar to sanitization, except it is not connected to public health standards.