Managing Breaches in Infection Prevention and Control in Dental Health Care Settings

CDC is a non-regulatory, non-enforcement federal agency that researches disease outbreaks and provides health information. CDC relies on its public health partners at local and state levels to address specific health concerns, including risk of potential disease transmission in their local area.

If you are concerned about a potential infection control breach in a dental health care setting, you should contact your state’s Healthcare Acquired Infection Coordinator to notify them of a potential infection control breach. Additionally, you may:

  • Consult with state or local regulating authorities specific to your jurisdiction.
  • Contact your state or local health department’s oral health program.
  • Contact your state dental board to file a complaint.
  • Contact your state or local agency that enforces occupational safety and health regulations, if you believe worker safety has been compromised.
  • Contact your state dental association to inquire about dispute resolution.

CDC has developed guidance for evaluating an infection control breach (available here:  The same multidisciplinary approach, including engagement with public health, should be used to manage breaches in dental settings. This should involve knowledgeable infection prevention experts and other personnel who can make decisions that support the best interest of involved patients. Contact public health officials for assistance when investigating infection prevention breaches and assessing potential patient risks. CDC is available to provide assistance and specific contacts for state health departments. Contact CDC’s Division of Oral Health at or by telephone at 770-488-6054.


CDC. Guidelines for infection control in dental health-care settings – 2003. MMWR 2003; 52(No. RR-17):1–66. Available at: pdf icon[PDF-1.2M]. Accessed July 16, 2015.

CDC. Health Care Associated Infections, Outbreaks and Patient Notifications. Available at: Accessed July 16, 2015.

Favero MS. Sterility assurance: concepts for patient safety. In: Rutala WA, ed. Disinfection, Sterilization and Antisepsis: Principles and Practices in Healthcare Facilities. Washington, DC: Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, 2001:110–119.

Patel PR, Srinivasan A, Perz JF. Developing a broader approach to management of infection control breaches in health care settings. Am J Infect Control 2008;36:685–690.

Rutala WA, Weber DJ, and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee. Guideline for disinfection and sterilization in healthcare facilities, 2008:1–158.

Rutala WA, Weber DJ. How to assess risk of disease transmission to patients when there is a failure to follow recommended disinfection and sterilization guidelines. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2007;28:146–155.