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J Dent Educ. 2010 Oct;74(10):1153-8.

Mobile phone hygiene: potential risks posed by use in the clinics of an Indian dental school.

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Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Manipal, India.


The objectives of this cross-sectional study were to determine the level and type of bacterial contamination of the mobile phones of dental personnel involved in direct patient care and to determine the usefulness of cleaning with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol for decontamination. Dental faculty and trainees in an Indian dental school were asked to participate in a study in which a questionnaire concerning patterns of mobile phone use and disinfection was administered. Swabs from mobile phones of the participants were taken using moist sterile swabs and plated on blood agar plates. The bacteria isolated were identified by biochemical tests. Eighteen percent of the participants (n=9) reported using their phones while attending patients. Nearly 64 percent (n=32) used their mobiles for checking time, and 64 percent (n=42) reported never cleaning their phones. In total, fifty mobile phones were cultured for microorganisms: 98 percent (n=49) were culture-positive, and 34 percent (n=17) grew potentially pathogenic bacteria. There was significant reduction in the mean number of colony-forming units after decontamination with alcohol (p<0.001). The bacterial load was reduced by around 87 percent. The results of this study show that mobile phones may act as an important source of nosocomial pathogens in the dental setting. Therefore, it is important for dental school administrators to encourage higher compliance with hand-washing practices and routine surface disinfection through framing of strict protocols to reduce the chances of occurrence of nosocomial infections.

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