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 The Gloves Examined

By: Elizabeth Dolman RDH

September 21,2021

There are 100 gloves in a box, this makes it 50 pairs. "How many gloves do you use per patient?" That is the question I was asked today by a Dental Assistant. Well, my answer was "4 gloves per patient , in other words 2 pairs of gloves for each patient. "


Now honestly speaking I was using 3 pairs of gloves per patient but I couldn't tell her that because then I thought it would start an argument which would be unethical for me as a Dental Hygienist.


The rationale behind it was that I was operating without the services of a Dental assistant. Simply put, God and myself did the preparation of the dental operatory for the dental procedures and I believed that after washing and drying my hands the next best thing was to put on a clean pair of gloves and set the procedure trays, organising the dental materials required for the procedure and applying the necessary barriers for surfaces touched during procedures.


The second pair of gloves would have been worn by me while treating the patient. After discarding of the contaminated gloves and washing my hands I then put on a new pair of gloves in order to decontaminate and disinfect the dental unit and surfaces around it. Now there goes my third pair of gloves.


So now the Dental Assistant got me into thinking, "do I really need to wear a pair of gloves during preparation of the operatory for a dental procedure?" " Can I just wash my hands, dry them and touch the dental materials and everything then just wash them again, dry them and put the patient in?" 

I know that gloves are now high in demand as a result of the COVID-19  Pandemic. I am well aware that the cost of a box of gloves have hit the roof. I know that good gloves are scarce and the cheaper ones just tear as you put them on or try to take them off sometimes.


What can we do as dental health professionals to maintain integrity, follow the right protocols and protect ourselves and patients at a reduced cost?

Can utility gloves be used to decontaminate and disinfect the dental operatory? I know that utility gloves are generally worn while washing dental instruments but how else can they be used? 

Today I discovered the Sensicare Pro Nitrile Gloves.


I then began to wonder how will we operate in dentistry after these lockdowns and the pandemic. I found a video on Youtube that seemed very interesting to me. I liked the fact that patients could complete and update their medical history online and that the patients were even given gloves to wear at the dental appointment.

   Fresh Dental Care

Gloves In The Dental Office

Glove Conservation


Types Of Gloves

Disposable Gloves are worn to keep hands clean and prevent cross contamination. There are Examination gloves that are either sterile or non sterile, latex or non latex, powdered and unpowdered. There are Sterile Surgical gloves and gloves used for chemotherapy. Gloves are worn during medical or dental procedures and during decontamination or disinfection processes.

The  powder free gloves  are  highly recommended over the powdered gloves. The  Nitrile or Latex free gloves are recommended for individuals with latex allergy.


Disposable examination gloves are classified as single use items therefore glove decontamination and reprocessing should be avoided. Currently there are no standardized, validated and affordable procedures to substantiate safe glove reprocessing. The unnecessary and inappropriate use of gloves may result in wasting of resource and may increase the risk of disease transmission.

Meet The Gloves

Dental Tools in Pocket
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