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What Are the Differences Between Surgical, Dentistry, and Nursing Scrubs?

Anyone who has ever visited a hospital, doctor's office, dentist or lab has seen people wearing scrubs. Most of us don't pay that much attention to the differences in the types of scrubs we see, but if you are in the medical field you know that there are distinct differences between the types of scrubs. 

All types of scrubs have been designed to serve a particular function and are not interchangeable. In order to be sure that the scrubs you are considering will meet the needs of those who will be wearing them, you must understand the different styles and the reasons for these differences. 
 
Surgical Scrubs 

Surgical scrubs are the original scrubs. They were created to not only protect the patients but also the clothing of the surgeon and nurses. As surgical procedures and sterilization techniques have improved, so has the design and use of surgical scrubs. They are designed to be worn by those working in and around surgical suites. They are in no way designed for fashion, just functionality. People involved in surgery, whether nurses, doctors or other members of the hospital staff, need to have unrestricted movements and comfort, not style, in a clothing that can stand up to the rigors of sterilization.

Surgical scrubs are generally unisex and always solid colored. The surgical suite is no place for the distraction of patterns or decorations. They are usually a simple square cut with a v-neck and made of a cotton polyester blend that repels dirt and stains. The pants generally have a drawstring waist and straight legs. 
If there are pockets at all, they are a simple patch type, again designed for functionality, not appearance. Everything about this type of scrub is designed to make it easy for the wearer to move without binding or restricting in any way. They are intended to be worn loosely and have no darting or contouring. 
 
Medical Scrubs 

Medical scrubs such as Cherokee uniforms, although loosely based on surgical scrubs in appearance, are designed to fill a completely different role. These are traditionally worn by medical professionals in many applications, including doctor's offices, hospitals and labs.The style and fit of these scrubs is limited only by the wearer's, or employer's imagination.

Generally speaking, medical scrubs are not unisex. Like street clothing, men's scrubs are cut larger across the shoulders with no extra room in the hips. Women's styles usually feature contoured tops and pants that are roomier in the hips and thighs. The pants may be straight legged but often are tapered. 

These scrubs can be found in a multitude of colors and patterns. For those who work with children, they are often whimsical and can even have seasonal themes. Where surgical scrubs are usually made of materials that do not give or stretch (and the loose cut enables the wearer freedom of movement), medical scrubs are often made of stretchable fabric. The pants most often have elastic waistbands that allow for comfort while sitting or standing. 

The pockets on medical scrubs, although functional, are often adorned and in attractive shapes. The pants are often of the cargo type with side pockets. Everything about these scrubs is designed to be functional and attractive. 
 
Dental Scrubs

Dental scrubs are simply a specialized type of the typical medical scrub. Because they are not intended to be worn in a sterile environment, there is more flexibility as to design and material.

Like other medical scrubs, they are not unisex in style. They are cut and styled differently for the genders and fit more snugly and attractively than surgical types. 
The tops of dental scrubs usually fall into two categories, those worn by the dentist and those worn by the staff. The dentists' type is often a solid color without patterns, although sometimes the doctor's or practice's name is embroidered on the chest pocket.

The staff scrubs are intended to put the patients at ease and are often brightly colored and patterned. Again, for those who are involved with children's dentistry, they often have tooth related or seasonal themes. 
 
Scrubs are the universal uniform for anyone involved in healthcare. Nurses, doctors, dentists, technicians, receptionists and many others can be found wearing them. If you are charged with supplying the scrubs for your employees or yourself, it is important to know what job the person wearing it will be doing. The styles are each designed to meet the specific needs of a particular job and in many cases, one cannot successfully be substituted for another.