Introduction. In dentistry, as in surgery, there is a risk of cross-
infection for both patients and staff. The aim of this research was
to evaluate procedures and behaviors enacted by dental staff
which might engender a risk for themselves and their patients.
Methods. A questionnaire was administered to 106 dental
workers in Genoa (Italy), both public and private. Whenever
personal interviews were conducted, the facilities involved were
also inspected and the activities of the dental staff were observed
Results. This research highlighted some critical points in both
structural and organizational features and in the management
of infective hazards in the sample considered. In some cases,
inadequacies were noted with regard to the prevention of cross-
infections, such as the lack of disinfection of work surfaces and
the handles of chair-set accessories.
Discussion and conclusions. The particular nature of dental
work, in which aerosols of blood and saliva may be produced by
rotating instruments, engenders a risk of infection. Application
of the various preventive measures available can significantly
reduce microbial contamination and the risk of occupational
infection and cross-infections. Furthermore, improvement in the
structural and organizational features of dental surgeries and the
continuing education of health-care workers is indispensable to
the control and prevention of infectious diseases.