INFECTION CONTROL: Infection control costs BIG dollar$

by R.A. Clappison, DDS, FRCD(C)

Dental practitioners know from painful experience that the provision of effective infection control procedures has added very significant operating costs. Additional handpieces and their maintenance, the provision of masks, gloves and eye protection, barriers, additional space for an infection control center, staff time and training, prevention of colonization in dental unit waterlines, waste disposal, additional sterilizers etc., have produced about US$4.7 billion1 annually for the dental industry. This is for dental infection materials utilized by dentists and/or hygienists alone.

The cost of products and materials utilized by the dentist or hygienist to treat one patient, with 1 assistant, is estimated at US$10.18 or US$36,6482 per year. The cost without an assistant is US$9.31 per one patient. Taxes, shipping, installation, utilities, remodeling of infection control center and additional staff time are not included.

Dentists have made significant efforts to control the cost of dental treatment to the public and should be recognized for their efforts. The factor of infection and disease control costs must be identified as lists of services and fees are developed. The benefits are extremely important to the patient, who should share the cost.


1. Clinical Research Associates Newsletter, Vol. 23, Issue 3, March 1999

2. Ibid, [Based on 15 patients per day, 5 days a week, 48 weeks per year)

by R.A.Clappison, DDS, FRCD(C)