As in any business, good working partnerships with suppliers is especially important, not least within dentistry, but what is often overlooked is that the expertise within these companies can be a real asset to practices and is there to be utilised. Dental professionals strive to put the patient first and provide the best treatment options in a safe and clean practice environment. But in order to do this to the required standard DCPs and practice managers are reliant on the knowledge and expertise of those working for manufacturers to develop and supply products and equipment with proven efficacy.
Across the whole of the dental profession one area that is fundamental to all stakeholders is that of decontamination and infection control. In order to comply with HTM 01-05 guidelines, CQC, SDCEP and other local regulations, rigorous decontamination processes, including testing and validation, using proven and effective products are paramount.
This is where the expertise of established and reputable suppliers and manufacturers can be of real benefit to everyone involved in decontamination procedures, helping to give peace of mind to dentists and practice managers. By choosing to work alongside companies who really understand this specialist field and have in-house research and development teams including qualified chemists and microbiologists, practices can access a vast pool of knowledge and expertise.
Training and education is a vital part of the infection prevention discourse and specialist suppliers who are wiling to share their expertise and help dental professionals fulfil the necessary CPD requirements are useful resources. Disinfection and decontamination is one of the core CPD topics and HTM 01-05 stipulates that all staff involved in decontamination must be suitably trained in its procedures. Speaking for Dentisan, I know how hard we work to help those responsible for infection control to understand their responsibilities. Our latest City & Guilds accredited learning programme is specifically designed to educate delegates on why infection control is so important in the dental practice, how to carry out procedures correctly and fulfil their compliance and CPD obligations. We have chosen this educational route precisely because we believe that understand is the key to improved behaviour and will help drive up standards of cleanliness across the profession.
Aside from the expertise, support and training that a true business partner can share with its customers, ultimately the most important outcome is that the products or services they offer are cost-effective and fit for purpose. Long-established companies that have worked hard to build up a solid and trusted reputation within a specific sector want to protect their reputation and only bring products to market that fulfil a need. Such companies are not driven by marketing hype, nor do they jump on any bandwagon that happens to be passing – their products are driven by market need and they are defined by this ethos.
Within the infection control market it is imperative that products not only ‘clean’, but that their formulations are scientifically proven to remove harmful pathogens and comply with relevant guidelines. One example of this occurs within HTM 01-05 Section 6.57, which cites the use of alcohol as an ineffective cleaner when in the presence of protein. Our response to this was to develop a range of pH neutral, alcohol-free cleaning and disinfection products that effectively take care of this problem. This development was an innovation within the market at the time and enabled practices to use alcohol-free, pH neutral cleaning and disinfection products.
Quality assurance can be further guaranteed by ensuring products have been independently tested by third parties to industry recognised and approved British and European standards and buying products which are appropriately CE marked is one way of being confident in the efficacy of a product.
Helping practices to understand infection control and then encouraging them to apply their knowledge in a practical environment is part of what I believe a trusted supplier relationship is all about. For dentists and practice managers, the confidence in knowing that you can depend on suppliers for consistent, reliable service as well as proven products is an important consideration when making purchasing decisions and without this additional expertise, it maybe time to reconsider your partnerships.
Bob Newsome, Commercial Director at Dentisan