Today’s busy dental practices face a serious challenge: to maintain or increase productivity while ensuring that patient safety remains a top priority. At times, these may seem like incompatible goals. Advances in dental equipment, however, have empowered practices to develop safer processes while realizing efficiencies and ultimately, saving money.
A cleaning and sterilization process that meets ADA and CDC guidelines is vital to an effective infection control program. Streamlining of this process requires an understanding of proper methods, materials, and devices. Many methods of instrument reprocessing are available.
Use of a complete system that encompasses and fulfills all elements that are critical maximizes efficiency and minimizes risks. Closed cassette systems provide a more efficient and safer way to process, sterilize and organize instruments in a dental office – these eliminate manual steps during instrument reprocessing such as hand scrubbing and time-consuming sorting of instruments, thereby improving safety and increasing efficiency.
Sterilization by dental autoclave in dentistry is very important, and dentists and dental assistants typically clean and disinfect most surfaces in a their offices and treatment rooms to help prevent the spread of germs.
Disposable dental supplies are also used whenever possible. Tools that are not disposable are generally scrubbed by hand and placed in a machine known as an autoclave. This machine then disinfects the tools by spraying them with very high-pressure steam, which kills most micro-organisms. Any tools that can not be subjected to high heat or moisture are usually disinfected with chemicals.
Disposable dental tools and supplies are some of the most important items when it comes to sterilization in dentistry. Some disposable dental supplies include bibs and masks wrapped in sterile packaging. Once these are used with one patient, they are simply thrown away.
Tools that can’t be thrown away, such as dental drills, are generally put through a very intensive dental sterilization process. First they are usually vigorously scrubbed by hand. This is usually done with hot water and detergent, and it helps remove any large particles, such as plaque. They may also be placed in a vibrating tray filled with cleaning solution, which can help remove very small particles.