Ensuring Clean And Sanitary Dental Instruments
Sterilization is important in our office. From HIV to colds, infection can spread through improperly cleaned dental instruments.
Levels Of Cleanliness
There are three levels of cleanliness that the American Dental Association mandates: critical, semi-critical, and non-critical. An example of a critical instrument would be a needle, something that enters the body. A semi-critical instrument is something that touches inside the mouth, like a dental mirror, but doesn’t go inside the body. A non-critical instrument would be something like a headrest cover that doesn’t go inside the mouth.
The Sterilization Process
What we use is a steam autoclave. This is steam under pressure 250 – 270 degrees Fahrenheit for at least a half hour. This provides good penetration into the instruments, killing bacteria.
In my office, most of the instruments are semi- to non-critical instruments. We use disposable sterile needles so we don’t need to deal with that. All critical to semi-critical instruments go through an ultra-sonic cleaner with an enzymatic cleaning solution. Then, it goes to the steam autoclave. We run multiple batches every day to ensure that we have enough clean and sterile instruments for our patients.
The Benefits To Our Process
There are several reasons why we developed the process that we have for sterilization in my office. It’s better for the environment, using less chemicals and less energy. It ensures quality every time and provides sterile, safe instruments for us to work with. And finally, it’s less expensive for our patients.