Hand it to the Glove

Your customers deserve a great fit!

When it comes to infection control, small ticket items can have a huge impact on the dental practice. Take the glove: A barrier to infection, illness and injury, it protects both the dental staff and their patients. Contrary to what some dentists may believe, saving a few cents by purchasing lower quality gloves can compromise the health of everyone who enters the practice.

Glove options
Although powdered gloves were banned by an FDA ruling in December 2016, and officially in January 2017, due to substantial risk of illness or injury to exposed individuals, dentists and their staff continue to have a number of options from which to choose – each with its advantages and disadvantages:

  • Latex gloves. Latex gloves have long been considered a trusted glove material for dental markets. Made from natural rubber latex, these gloves are known for their flexibility and fitment properties, and offer reliable barrier protection. However, some practitioners and patients have allergic reactions to latex gloves, widely deterring their use. In turn, latex-free gloves, such as vinyl, nitrile and polychloroprene materials, have gained popularity in the dental office.
  • Vinyl gloves. A more economical option than latex, vinyl gloves are made with polyvinyl chloride and, as such, are free of latex allergens. Glove wearers, however, feel that vinyl gloves do not offer the same flexibility as latex gloves.
  • Nitrile gloves. Like vinyl gloves, nitrile gloves are made of synthetic rubber material – one that features similar characteristics to natural rubber and offers much of the same in flexibility and durability as latex gloves. Whereas some doctors may have shied away from nitrile gloves in the past because they cost more than other glove options, newer generations of nitrile gloves are thinner – and less expensive. That said, there have been growing concerns of allergic reactions to chemical accelerators used in nitrile glove manufacturing; in response, newer, accelerator-free nitriles have become available.
  • Polychloroprene gloves. Polychloroprene gloves have gained interest in the dental market. They are made with a synthetic rubber said to closely match the flexibility and barrier protection of latex gloves. In addition, polychloroprene gloves do not raise allergen/dermatitis concerns associated with latex and nitrile gloves.

As a general rule of thumb, latex, nitrile and polychloroprene gloves all are highly rated for comfort. Latex and polychloroprene gloves are also said to offer better fitment.

Working with the customer
Generally, any gloves that are rated as an exam grade are considered appropriate for use in the dental practice. For more critical procedures, however, surgical gloves may be required. Sales reps should research current health and safety CDC guidelines and OSHA regulations to ensure they offer their customers the right solution.

The decision maker in charge of glove purchases may vary from one dental practice to the next. Anyone from the dentist to the office manager, hygienist or dental assistant may make the final call, making it important for sales reps to engage the whole office. Additionally, because glove selection is a personal choice, and each practitioner can have his or her own preference, reps should be prepared to help their customers stock more than one glove type.

Sales reps can initiate a discussion about gloves by asking a couple of probing questions, such as:

  • “What are your concerns regarding natural rubber latex gloves versus synthetic rubber gloves?”
  • “What are your priorities regarding glove selection? Flexibility, tactile sensitivity, cost, etc.?”

Some customers may find it confusing that different gloves are packaged in different quantities – ranging from 100 to 200 or even 300 gloves per box. Sales reps can do their customers a service by calculating a standard unit of cost across the board. At the same time, they should remind their customers that, while it’s important to make economical choices, it never pays to save money at the expense of staff and patient safety.

Editor’s note: First Impressions Magazine would like to thank Cranberry® for its assistance with this piece.

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