Being a hands-on profession, in dentistry, it is required by the doctors to wear protective gloves for 40 hours or sometimes more a week. It serves to protect the doctors from exposure to harmful pathogens in the patient’s saliva and blood. They also protect the wearer’s hands from the harsh and toxic antiseptic solutions and other chemicals used during treatment.
In addition to protecting the doctors, the right dental glove also protects the patients from transmissible infections. Utility gloves for dental office are thus important and vital for use by doctors and other staff.
But how to choose the right pair? How to know that the glove you are using is effectively protecting you and others? That’s what we will try to answer here. After learning about the types and how each of them functions, you’ll be easily able to decide which pair you want.
Importance of Use of Gloves in Dentistry
Disposable latex gloves were introduced in 1958, but it was not until the late 1980s that it began to be used in dentistry for preventing transmission of pathogens like HIV. Not only HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), but glove usage in dentistry is of paramount importance for preventing some other type of infections like MRSA, viral hepatitis, as well. Also, they protect patients from getting infected as well.
It has been seen that adhering to personal protection protocols, like wearing gloves, can drastically reduce the risk of transmission from doctors to patients and vice versa.
Types of Dental Gloves
Earlier, when it came to gloves, there were only two options to choose from – Latex and Vinyl. But now, with different types of synthetic material used in manufacturing gloves, things have become a lot safer but also a bit confusing.
There is a range of glove types to choose from and each type has its own strengths and weaknesses. So, the dentists need to be cautious and choose the type that best meets their interests.
Natural Rubber Latex (NRL) is naturally produced and used in manufacturing different types of products, gloves being one of them. Latex dental gloves account for a major portion of gloves manufactured and come with its own benefits.
Since their introduction, NRL gloves have been considered as the gold standard. Not only that, NRL used to be the only material used for manufacturing gloves for many years. These gloves come in two variants – powdered and non-powdered. The powdered variant makes the putting on and removing of dental gloves easier.
- Excellent Protection
- High dexterity and durability
- A renewable resource used in manufacturing
- Low cost
- Individuals with a latex allergy shouldn’t wear them
- Cannot be used with certain chemicals
- Low shelf life
Nitrile is a synthetic polymer and acrylonitrile was developed during World War II as a result of latex shortage. However, commercial usage began as late as 1969. For individuals with a latex allergy, nitrile gloves are a perfect alternative. Nitrile gloves are often referred to as ‘medical grade’ and are favored for use in the medical industry due to several reasons.
- A great alternative for individuals with latex allergy
- Resistant to most chemicals including glutaraldehydes
- High durability
- High puncture-resistance
- Exposure to ozone, oxygen, and UV light can deteriorate the quality
- A small puncture may easily tear the whole glove
Vinyl gloves are made from polyvinyl chloride which is a thermoplastic glass at room temperature. When plasticized, it reduces its hardness and can be used for manufacturing gloves. Vinyl is also a synthetic alternative to latex gloves but due to the high failure rates, the safety offered by these gloves has often been questioned.
- Alternate to latex
- Unaffected by ozone or UV light
- Less expensive
- Less durable
- Poor puncture and tear resistance
- Not to be used with chemicals like glutaraldehydes
How to Choose the Right Dental Glove
Choosing the right dental glove is up to the dentists. They should assess what type of work they will be used for and what are the requirements that the gloves must meet. Nitrile gloves are often suggested for better chemical resistance, but if someone is not susceptible to latex allergies, they can go for latex gloves as well.
The important factors to keep in mind before buying a pair must include the right glove size which is not too loose neither too tight, the correct thickness, and other criteria like dexterity. Utility gloves for dental office must also meet the acceptable quality level (AQL).
Always do a quality test before buying. Inspect the gloves for barrier breaches like tears and pinholes after wearing them.
With these factors kept in mind, it would be easier to choose the right pair for your dental work.