The FAQ about Dental Sterilization

Sterilization 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 dental 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. There are some FAQ about dental sterilization:

1.Q Why is it important to package instruments for sterilization and storage?

A Packaging cleaned instruments prior to placing them in the sterilizer is a standard of care that protects instruments and maintains their sterility until they are ready for use on a patient. Unprotected instruments may be re-contaminated with dust and spatter or by coming into contact with any number of non-sterile surfaces during transport, storage, tray set-up, and operatory set-up.

2. Q What is the acceptability on glass bead sterilizers?

A Hot salt/glass bead sterilizers are not acceptable for the sterilization of items between patients. The endodontic(endo motor) dry heat sterilizer (glass bead sterilizer) is no longer cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA Dental Device Classification Panel has stated that the glass bead sterilizer presents “a potential unreasonable risk of illness or injury to the patient because the device may fail to sterilize dental instruments adequately.”

3. Q The instructions for the electrosurgery tips my practices uses say to “cold sterilize” them. What cold sterilization   methods does the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approve for use?

A “Cold sterilization” entails the use of chemicals that FDA classifies as high-level disinfectants/sterilants. Chemicals in this category are required to have FDA clearance for their claims.

Ideally, all items that enter the patient’s mouth and come into contact with oral tissues should be heat sterilized. If this is not feasible because the device or instrument cannot withstand the heat sterilization process, a high-level disinfectant should be used.

The FDA maintains a list of products that have received clearance as chemical sterilants. The list includes information regarding proper contact time, active ingredients and reuse or shelf life. Always read instructions carefully before using a chemical germicide.


How to Keep the Cleanliness of Dental Handpiece

We offen use the dental equipment to do the dental practice. But do you pay attention to their cleanliness? You should know it is very important. Today we talk how to keep the cleanliness of dental handpiece.

Dental handpiece having means for opening and closing a chuck. A device for opening and closing a chuck for a dental handpieces has a handle portion and a powerhead assembly including a hollow driving shaft having, adjacent to its outer orifice, a forwardly outwardly tapering portion defining a small diameter rear portion and a large diameter front portion. A chuck pusher is held in a socket member with a disc plate spring interposed between the socket member and the chuck pusher, and the pusher is movable for axially displacing the chuck to hold or release the dental tool.

Wipe down the handpiece with a damp disposable cloth. If there is still some bioburden left on the handpiece, clean under running water using a brush. A mild detergent is acceptable. Be sure that all bioburden is removed before proceeding to the next step as it can act as a protective sheild for microorganisms in the dental autoclave.

Using a pen droplet oiler (Pen Oil), insert 2-3 drops of oil into the drive air tube.  Insert a drop of oil into the chuck and speed ring (if available) of the handpiece. Because there are many different types of motors in the industry,  this image (left) guides you to how much lubrication to apply and to what parts of the dental micro motor. Approximately once a month or whenever you see a lot of debris build up; be sure to clean the handpiece threads with a paper towel and isopropyl alcohol. Wipe down the exterior of the handpiece with a dry towel to remove any expelled fluid or debris. The handpiece should be completely dry at this point.

Unused handpieces and handpieces which had been exposed to clinical dental procedures were contaminated with Streptococcus mutans, exposed to steam or ethylene oxide, and flushed with sterile saline. Washings were plated on mitis-salivarius agar, and colonies identified and counted. This data suggests that a substance entrapped within ‘clinical’ handpieces (possibly the biofilm) may protect bacteria from ethylene oxide gas, preventing adequate sterilization.

One used dental handpiece from each hospital or department of stomatology in general hospital selected was detected for possible contamination of bacteria by aerobic bacterial count and CONCLUSIONS: dental handpieces without anti-suction should be replaced soon by those with it or comprehensive dental unit with anti-suction device should be used. Used dental handpieces must be sterilized effectively before next use. Awareness on prevention from cross-infection should be improved for dental-care professional staff and operation of sterilization should be standardized.