The only mycobacterial organism of significance to most dentists is sivcobncteruun tuberculosis. Although tuberculosis (TB) is an uncommon di ease in the United States and Canada, the frequent movement of people between countries inclucing those where Tll is common, continues
to spread M, tuberculosis organisms worldwide. In addition, some newer strains of M, tuberculosis have become resistant tothe drugs historically used to treat TB, Therefore it is important that measures be followed to
prevent the spread of TB from patients to the dental team.
Tuberculosis is transmitted primarily through exhaled aerosols that carry M. tuberculosis bacilli (Mtb) from the infected lungs of one individual to the lungs of another individual. Droplets are produced by those with untreated
. TB during breathing, coughing, sneezing, and speaklng. Mtb is not a highly contagious microorganism. However, transmission can also occur via inadequately sterilized instruments, because although Mtb organisms do not form spores, they are highly resistant to desiccation and to most chemical disinfectants.’ To prevent transmission of tuberculosis from an infected individual to the dental ‘staff, the staff should wear face masks whenever treating or in closecontact with these patients. The organisms are
sensitive to heat, ethylene oxide, and irradiation; therefore to prevent their spread fJom patient to patient, all reusable instruments and supplies should be sterilized with heat or ethylene oxide gas. When safe to do so,
patients with untreated TB should have their surgery postponed until they can receive treatment for their TB.