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Article: Volume 43 Number 8 Page 723 - October 2016

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  Dent Update 2016; 43: 723-726

Disinfection/Decontamination:  Evaluation of Quaternary Ammonium Compound Disinfectants against Mycobacteria in Dental Practices

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Abstract: This paper discusses the use in dental practices of quaternary ammonium compounds (QAC) and alcohol-based disinfectants in relation to bactericidal efficacy against mycobacteria. QAC disinfectants are commonly used in dental practices, although there are concerns about their efficacy against tuberculosis-causing bacteria. The paper discusses a recent study where two QAC products (ready-to-use and saturated wipe liquor presentations) were tested, using a recognized suspension test, at the manufacturer’s recommended concentration, under simulated ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ conditions. The test data indicated that, after a 10-minute contact time, suitable kill of the test organism was not obtained. These findings raise questions about the suitability of QAC disinfectants for dental practices.

Clinical relevance: Tuberculosis, a disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is increasingly becoming a communicable disease of concern. It is important that dental practices ensure that a suitable level of decontamination takes place between patients. QAC disinfectants may not be suitable for this purpose and alternative biocides, like alcohol, may need to be considered.

Author notes: Tim Sandle, PhD, Head of Microbiology, Bio Products Laboratory, Elstree, UK. (

Objective: To understand the risk of tuberculosis infection and the need to disinfect surfaces between patients.


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