2021 01 18

Infection Control Dilemmas Regarding the Use of Polytetrafluorethylene Tape in Dentistry

Marina Dourou, Ali Nankali

The widespread use of Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) tape in clinical practice is surrounded by uncertainty regarding bacterial growth and contamination. PTFE tape is not manufactured, distributed or stored with the purpose of being used in a dental clinical setting and since it is not currently identified as a dental material, the production line and storage protocols do not ensure the sterility of the final product.

Aims: The aim of this small-scale preliminary study was to investigate whether PTFE tapes are microbially contaminated, following distribution and prior to application in dental clinical settings.

Materials and Methods: 11 tapes were microbiologically investigated using two separate methods and were incubated both aerobically and anaerobically. Gram staining was performed for all identifiable colonies.

Results: All PTFE tapes were contaminated with microbes, but an uneven distribution of contaminants was observed within each PTFE tape reel. The PTFE tape samples were mainly contaminated with environmental spore-forming bacteria, namely Bacillus licheniformis, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens ssp. Plantarum, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens and Aneurinibacillus migulanus.

Discussion and Conclusion: This preliminary work highlights an area of clinical concern and raises awareness regarding the contamination of PTFE tapes used in dental clinical settings. It also highlights the importance of designing a standardised sterilisation protocol for PTFE tapes in order to ensure that the material is free of bacterial contaminants prior to application.

Keywords: Polytetrafluoroethylene tape, PTFE tapes, dental microbial contamination, dental clinical practice